Realtime Center for Learning celebrates NCRA’s 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week

Court Reporting & Captioning Week was celebrated at the Realtime Center for Learning (RCL) by participating in the NCRA Students’ Speed Tests. RCL has locations in Garden City and Massapequa, N.Y.

“It was really easy for us to incorporate the dictations, word lists and directions for the students’ tests; they had the flexibility of being timed for any speed that a student had last passed. However, passing was 96 percent,” said Harriet Brenner-Gettleman, CMRS, CRI, director and owner of the RCL

“All participants would be named in the next JCR with those that passed being entered into a pool from which Gold, Silver and Bronze winners would be selected with various prizes commiserate with the appropriate level.”

NCRA sent the Literary and Q&A tests already timed out in 20 words with enough material so court reporting faculty who participated were able to give tests from 60 wpm up to 200 wpm in both categories.  According to Brenner-Gettleman, RCL is a unique blend of one in-house night a week for accountability, dictation and test-giving along with having students do between 13 and 20 hours of homework and practice a week.

As such, participating in the NCRA students’ speed contest created a bit of a challenge since there are three speed classes on Tuesday nights and one high speed and two Theory classes on Thursday nights, explained Brenner-Gettleman.

“There were three students who took the test at 100 wpm, another student took it at 120 wpm, but I had to give them separately because they were all really in the same class,” she added.

Students who participated included: Debbie Babino; Gabrielle Carletti; Antonia Moy; Joe Altier; Lisa Previt; and Samantha Marshak.

“Court Reporting & Captioning Week is an opportunity for reminding the students they are part of a larger culture of excellence and dedication,” Brenner-Gettleman said. “We also remind them, if they haven’t already, to join both the New York State Association of Court Reporters and NCRA and to put the upcoming convention dates for both on their calendars.”

Cypress College of Court Reporting celebrates four decades

The Cypress College of Court Reporting (CCCR), Cypress, Calif., celebrated 40 years of program excellence on March 7. The program was originally designed as a licensing program for court reporting students who wanted to become Certified Shorthand Reporters (CSRs). Over the years, it has evolved into a diversified training program, offering an Associate Degree in Court Reporting and an Associate Degree in Law Office Administration.

In addition, CCCR’s program provides training in specialized areas and awards a Certificate of Achievement in the following specialties: Captioning, CART, Legal Administrative Assistant, Legal Transcription, Proofreader, Scoping/Editing, Hearing Reporter, Court Reporting, Court and Agency Services, and Court Reporting Technology.

Recently, the court reporting program started a pilot program with the college to offer captioning services to entities within the North Orange County Community College District. The students who will be performing the captioning services are currently in training.

The college also is involved in a high school outreach program offering students the opportunities to pursue court reporting and legal careers through the college.

Students at CCCR can also participate in the Court Reporting Club with monthly activities. The club offers a variety of scholarships and awards programs.

CCCR is currently the only community college in Southern California offering a court reporting training program.  For more information, contact C. Freer at

Brown College celebrates 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week with a number of events 

Students and faculty at Brown College of Court Reporting (BCCR) in Atlanta, Ga., held a number of events throughout the week to celebrate 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week held Feb. 10-16.

An open house kicked off the week to showcase the profession to prospective students. Attendees were given a tour of the facility, learned how to type a few words on a steno machine, and heard first hand from program graduates about what it is like to work in the field.

The college also held a friendly student competition with a game dubbed, “Grammar Jam.”  The Jeopardy style game had students team up to answer questions in several categories including current events, spelling, punctuation, definitions, medical and legal terminology, and court reporting procedures questions.  Prizes were provided by Janice S. Baker & Associates and  US Legal Support.

The winning team of students included: Thomas Pacheco; Kimesha Smith Stallworth; Andrew Shin; Connor Tatham; and Cindi Drakeford.

Guest speaker Vickie Wiechec, CCR, a past president of the Georgia Court Reporters and Captioners Association, visited the college to talk to more than 70 students on campus and online about the captioning and CART profession, and gave them several takeaways to consider for anyone considering entering the field.

A second guest speaker during the week was Magistrate Judge, Jennifer Mann, who talked to students about the High School Mock Trial competition and Georgia high school participants’ successful history in competition on the national level. She encouraged all BCCR students to participate as court reporters duringseveral rounds that took place in early March at the Gwinnett County Court House. BCCR has been participating in mock trial competitions for the last few years and recently reported that several students participated in the latest competition.

Debbie Kriegshauser, CRR, RMR, an official court reporter at the federal level from St. Louis, Mo., also spoke with students on campus and online about the state of the industry, the importance of certifications, and the importance of finishing school. She not only encouraged students to finish the program, she brought several books from the NCRA Store to give away to campus and online students.

Keys to success for the adult learner

By Kay Moodyportrait of the author

Many adjectives describe the typical court reporting student: busy, mature, single parent, employed, easily frustrated, second career, and self-supporting. Court reporting students are adults who are involved in many demanding, life-changing, time-consuming, and mentally depleting activities that interfere with their focus and concentration and that can sometimes hinder the time they can spend on skill development.

Adult learners are defined as students who are 20 years old or older; for many years, educators thought adults and younger students learned in the same way. Over the years, educational researchers found there are profound differences between adult learning and that of younger students. As an adult student, you must be goal-oriented and know what you hope to achieve every time you are working on your machine. You must identify goals and objectives for every class and practice session, and you will learn best when you view the potential outcome of each class and practice session. You will progress faster if you manage time for your school-related activities so they fit into your busy life.

Listed below are five critical elements that promote learning for adults: Motivation, Time Management, Reinforcement, Transfer of Learning, and Retention.

  1. Motivation : The best way to feel motivated is to make every class relevant and meaningful. Don’t think of activities as busy work or nonproductive. You will be motivated when you know the relevance of every course, every class, every assignment, and every practice session. If you can’t identity the objective of an assignment, ask your instructor what the expected outcome or purpose of the assignment is. Insist that your instructors give you immediate, constructive, and specific feedback.


  1. Time Management: Like most adult learners, you are probably busy and don’t have large blocks of uninterrupted time. Plan time you can practice when your family and friends won’t disturb you: during their favorite TV show, when they’re at school or taking a nap, before and after they’ve gone to bed, etc. You can find ways to squeeze in 5, 10, 15 minutes three times every day for drills, to read back shorthand notes, or for memorizing and reviewing outlines. For instance, if you work full-time, plan to work on non-machine activities during your lunch hour and break time, and, during your commute, visualize writing on your machine while listening to audio tapes. In developing your plan, don’t try to do more than one thing at a given time. Schedule the more difficult tasks early in the day when you’re well-rested.


  1. Reinforcement: Adult students need constant reinforcement in a variety of ways. Drills are essential for learning, reviewing, and reinforcement of briefs, phrases, multisyllabic words, difficult outlines, etc. Try practicing the same drill for 10 minutes every day until you can write it perfectly! Speed is developed through repetition by hearing the same take over and over again. Read back each take, mark errors and words that caused you to hesitate, and drill on those words. Repeat the selection and continue until you can write it.

You should benefit from every class — even a class in which you wrote poorly because this is when you can identify your weaknesses and develop strengths. Keep a journal to see what you need to review, tape the class, and work out the difficult parts until you master the selection that you wrote poorly.


  1. Transfer of learning: The fourth element that promotes adult learning is transfer of learning: the ability to apply or use information in a new or different setting. This is the importance of working on drills and how they help students progress. Work on drills that eliminate your weaknesses. For instance, if you had a speedbuilding take that was difficult because it had a lot of proper names, work on writing proper names at least once a day. You can make up a list from names in the newspaper, your address book, the teachers at your child’s school, etc. Once you get used to writing proper names through drill work, transfer of learning will automatically take place when taking dictation. Other drills include briefs, phrases, numbers, alphabets, foreign words, homophones, and word families. Use external memory aids such as a whiteboard or bulletin board, Post-It Notes, and notebooks to help you memorize and remember the correct outlines.


  1. Retention: The fifth major element that promotes learning is your ability to retain information. This pertains to learning new outlines for difficult words, briefs, and phrases.

Principles of Retention

  • Adults retain 10 percent of what they read.
  • Adults retain 20 percent of what they write.
  • Adults retain 30 percent of what they see.
  • Adults retain 50 percent of what they see, hear, and write.
  • Adults retain 90 to 100 percent of what they see, hear, write, read, and repeat many times.

To learn and retain new outlines:  first of all read a steno outline; write it on your machine; then read the steno that you’ve written, saying it out loud while you read; write the outline again while visualizing the outline in shorthand; continue until going through the steps until you can write the outline with 100 percent accuracy. For additional information and ideas, go to the following website:

Adults can progress quickly through court reporting school when they use the correct study and practice skills by incorporating the five critical element of effective adult learning:  Motivation, Time Management, Reinforcement, Transfer of Learning, and Retention.

Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE, is an instructor for the College of Court Reporting based in Valparaiso, Ind.

How did we get here? Life before court reporting school

They come from diverse backgrounds, some with no prior job experience and others with 30 or more years behind them. Court reporting students are recent high school grads, stay-at-home parents, and veterans. They have worked in education, public service, law, and business. These students each took a different path, but they came to the same place with a similar goal.

Up-to-Speed asked students from Arlington Career Institute in Grand Prairie, Texas;  Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga.; and Simply Steno Court Reporting Program:  What were you doing before you started court reporting school?

Arlington Career Institute

Alice Crawford:  I was a development director for a small nonprofit organization. Working to help improve the quality of life for so many really afforded me a sense of contentment.

Autumn Clark: I was and still am working as a 911 emergency dispatcher.

Bartley Caitlin: Working as an office manager for a brand design company.

Jennifer Cook: I am still working a full-time job at a local municipality.

Brittany Creech: I worked for nine years as a legal assistant in a District Attorney’s office.

Eileen Peralez: I was a stay-at-home mom during the day with my 3 children under the age of four; then I would work part time from home from 5-10 p.m.

Hannah Pate: I was enrolled at a community college in my hometown and working as a receptionist at our District Attorney’s office.

Vanessa Carranza: I was and still am employed as a police officer.

Krystal Cook: I am a stay-at-home mom. Prior to that I was a soldier in the U.S. Army.

Samantha Crawford: Before I began school and during, I worked full-time at my local hospital and was a volunteer child advocate for the court.

Candice Radam: I am working full-time as a pharmacy technician.

Carmen Cortinas: I was taking classes towards a nursing degree.

Judith Gilmore: I had been teaching for 20+ years.


Brown College of Court Reporting

Michelle Munro: I am a paralegal, and I have been working for a real estate attorney for the past five years.

Geraldine Gomes: I am currently employed in the human resources field as an engagement specialist and I am an alcohol and drug counselor.

Donna Capolongo: I worked as an IT recruiter for about 30 years, the last 12 years of which I ran an IT staffing firm which I cofounded.

Kaitlin Thompson: Before I started school I was a staying home and taking care of my elderly grandmother.

Joy Cunningham: I worked in Mental Health as a Qualified Mental Healthcare Professional, as a Middle School English Teacher, and a part-time collage and jewelry artist.


Simply Steno

Aleece DePuey: I was in insurance sales and then worked in efficiency scheduling in construction.

Dominique LaJeunesse: I was working at eBay.

Alexandra Zuazo: Paralegal.

Brianna Carpenter: I was a college student studying Business Management and Human Resources at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Keri Hryc: Student.

Paula Henderson: I am a teacher with 22 years of experience.

Amy Quincey: Massage therapist.

A lucky cab ride

By Kristine Wesner

Growing up, college held so much promise: Pick a school and program I like, earn the degree, qualify for well-paying jobs, and earn enough money to pay back my loans and start my life. However, after the third attempt at starting a career with yet another company, doing something unrelated to my degree and working just to “work,” I finally realized that I was repeating a path I would not enjoy or even continue for much longer. While there were aspects that aligned well with my degree in English studies, the jobs never quite took off to become the career I wanted. So with no plan and a patiently supportive husband, I decided to take time off to figure out where to go in my life.

It was obvious to those around me that I had a passion for the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of documentation. Whether it involved heavy research, developing and structuring some form of record, or just being able to type faster than most in my field, I knew my career would be discovered through those means. I thought pre-law and paralegal work would benefit me, but I was not keen on the idea of staying in school when college was so close to an end at that point; I was burned out and just wanted to work. As the years passed after graduation, it became apparent to me that the adage rang true: “It’s who you know, not what you know.” I never believed it would apply to my situation until I entered into my second month of unemployment in February 2017.

During my two-week stint as a driver for Uber, I received a pick-up request near downtown Chicago. It was then that I met a familiar face in the court reporting world, Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a former president of NCRA who is currently serving the Chicagoland area. When picking her up, I helped load her lone suitcase into the trunk of my car and, being the curious sort that I am, I inquired where she was traveling. It was then she explained her fascinating career as a court reporter, with her writer carefully packaged away in the metal-supported suitcase. She explained that a lot of her career takes her on the road and the writer was a fragile piece of technology, with language smarter than the average computer. Just like your first car, you take care of your machine and it takes care of you. I mentioned that I had been fascinated with the idea of stenography, but I was not keen on the idea of more schooling.

The questions soon began: What had I pursued in college? What jobs had I experienced previously? What kind of work I found enjoyable? Was driving for Uber a hobby or a career for me? I explained that I had graduated with an English degree but felt unfilled with my attempts at finding a career, so I decided to start driving for Uber because I was currently trying “to find myself.” She noted that I seemed to be outgoing and had a solid knowledge of the English language, both of which are strong qualifications for court reporting. In turn, I asked about how happy she was in her career; if more lengthy schooling was required to develop the experience; and of course, what the financial benefits of the career were. In essence, she described — in as much detail and passion as a 20-minute car ride allowed — all the pros and cons of the court reporting world.

As we arrived at her destination, she gave me her business card and invited me to stay in touch with her should I choose to explore the idea of court reporting. When I saw her name, I said, “Your last name means Sunday!” and explained I was studying German as a hobby, to which she said, “You really do love linguistics! You’re already a great fit.” The enthusiasm and driving force she had was infectious and I decided – after much research and review – that I would return to school at the College of Court Reporting (CCR), in Valparaiso, Ind., in order to obtain my AAS in Court Reporting.

I am currently starting my third semester at CCR, having just completed my first five-minute Q&A at 60 wpm. I am surrounded by overwhelming resources and support from the faculty and staff at CCR. My classmates come from all walks of life, yet we are all working toward the same goals (I have even made a steno best friend, whom I speak with almost daily), and that fateful meeting turned an acquaintance into a mentor and friend.

With the challenge of balancing home life and full-time school, the goal of graduating in December 2019 with the 225 wpm requirement seems daunting. But even with attaining that goal, court reporting has ignited a passion in me that I do not feel the English program ever did at my alma mater. I am making plans that never seemed possible: I plan to graduate and apply to a specific agency for a few years, and then I will pursue an opportunity as a full-time court reporter for one of our local courts. Or, if I find myself still struggling with realtime, I would love the idea of teaching theory to future students. I already find myself talking non-stop about it to family and friends, so why not get paid for it as well!

I have not always been the most optimistic person, but court reporting has drastically improved my way of thinking in such a short amount of time, and every day I cannot wait to talk about it with someone new, just what Melanie did for me.

Kristine Wesner is a court reporting student at College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind.

Why are we here? The path to court reporting school

Court reporting students may share the common desire to become professionals in their field, but each has followed a unique path to get there. They arrive at school with different experiences, for different reasons, and with different plans for the future. Up-to-Speed reached out to students to ask them why they chose court reporting, where they get their inspiration, and what lies ahead.

Connie Spears and Meredith McDonnell of Arlington Career Institute in Grand Prairie, Texas; Sydney Lundberg of Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa; Suzanne Laisney of Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga.; and Sara Vaughn of Simply Steno share their stories.


UTS | Why have you chosen this career?

SPEARS | I have always been interested in the law and hearing people’s stories, and now my career will be to do this every single day! My cousin has been a court reporter for 13 years, and she really has helped me understand the job and the benefits for my future.

LUNDBERG |  I become interested in court reporting through my family member, who was a captioner at the time.

MCDONNELL | I had seen a presentation in high school featuring court reporting as a future career, and it always stuck with me as a skill that I would like to learn more about.

LAISNEY | At the risk of sounding cliché, I actually was looking on the Internet for a new career to have in this part of my life. I saw an ad from Brown College and decided to research it more. As soon as I did, I knew it would be the right fit for me.

VAUGHN | I was in the process of applying to college to become an accountant. It wasn’t really something I thought I’d enjoy, but I knew it would help me financially. A friend of mine happened to mention court reporting, which I’d never even heard of prior to that conversation, so I decided to look into it. After a bit of research, I was convinced it was going to be something that not only would enrich my financial situation but was so diverse that I could be happy with what I do for a long time to come.


UTS | What were you doing before you started school?

SPEARS |I work at a dental office and have for 14 years. But since I was young I always wanted to be a court reporter. So now is my time!

LUNDBERG | Before I started school, I was attending high school, and I was extremely interested in marine biology.

MCDONNELL |I was a part-time preschool teacher and a stay-at-home mom.

LAISNEY |Before I started school I had a full career. I was a 30 year veteran teacher in the public school system in Georgia. My areas of expertise and certifications are focused in language arts and foreign language instruction (in particular French and Spanish), Instructional Technology, and English taught to speakers of other languages (ESOL). With these being my strengths and experience, I thought that court reporting would dovetail quite nicely into a future career!

VAUGHN |I was and still am a bookkeeper.


UTS | Who or what inspires you?

SPEARS |My children inspire me. I want to be the very best I can be and also do what I have always dreamed of doing so that my kids will see in life one day that you can do anything you put your mind to!

LUNDBERG | I am inspired by my aunt, as she assists the hearing impaired through CART and broadcast captioning services.

MCDONNELL |Those who get a little later start in life when it comes to starting their career. I decided to have my children at a young age and to be at home with them for the first several years of their life before I began to work on my own career.

LAISNEY |I am inspired by Richard Branson (entrepreneur and business owner of Virgin companies around the world) and many people whoare similar to him. I love to read quotes from people I admire to inspire me. I look at a quote as a quick peek into a person’s brain. Branson has many that resonate with me, including my favorite: “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes then learn how to do it later.” In fact, I love quotes so much for personal inspiration that I keep a running notebook of them. This way, whenever I run across one I like, I add it to my notebook to re-read later when I need to get that extra pop of motivation!

VAUGHN |It sounds so cliché, but my kids inspire me. I want to show them that even if the task is a long, difficult road, if you set your mind to it, you can make it happen. They’ve seen me go through some setbacks, but they’ll also see me succeed in what I set out to accomplish.


UTS | What happens next? What is your dream job?

SPEARS |This is my dream job! Being a court reporter is my dream job, and I cannot wait to be sitting in the court room!

LUNDBERG | My dream job is to work for VITAC as a captioner.

MCDONNELL |I am very interested in the criminal justice system, and the idea of being in a courtroom and being able to play a part of the action excites me. Court reporting is my dream job because it is the perfect career for allowing me to feel important and involved, but it still gives me the flexibility to spend time with my family.

LAISNEY |My dream job is one in which I feel passionate about what I am doing while continuing to have flexibility and balance in my life. It is one where I feel excited to come to work daily, knowing that I will leave at the end of the day having made a difference!

VAUGHN |I am in love with cosmology! My dream job would be to provide captioning services for NASA or SpaceX.

Student speed contest winners announced

Kelsie Alford of Green River College in Auburn, Wash.

NCRA congratulates the winners of the Court Reporting & Captioning Week student speed contest. Of the students who passed the five-minute dictation test, three winners were drawn at random. Kelsie Alford of Green River College in Auburn, Wash., was awarded the Gold medal. “Even though I’m at the beginning of my speed-building journey, having the opportunity to participate in the NCRA speed contest was exciting,” said Alford. “Although I was nervous to write the test, the support of my peers and teachers encouraged me to take on this challenge.”

Julie Drew of Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta

Julie Drew of Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta was awarded the Silver medal. “This speed test was a great opportunity to enhance my vocabulary and to further my learning,” Drew said. “Thank you for this great experience!” The Bronze medal went to Samantha Marshak of Realtime Center for Learning, Inc. in Garden City, N.Y. Marshak has been studying for nearly three years. “Court reporting as a career has proven to be a challenge from the start,” she told Up-to-Speed, “but it will be one of the most rewarding accomplishments to say ‘I did it.’”

The NCRA Student/Teacher Committee sponsored the Olympic-themed speed test, which was offered to all students at varying test speeds. One Literary and one Q&A test were given and each consisted of five minutes of dictation at a speed level that each student was either currently working on or had just passed. In order to be eligible to win a prize, students must have passed the test with at least 96 percent accuracy.

Samantha Marshak of Realtime Center for Learning, Inc. in Garden City, N.Y.

As the gold medal winner, Alford will go home with an RPR Study Guide ($125 value). Drew, the silver medalist, will have the choice of a one-year NCRA student membership ($46 value) or one complimentary leg of the RPR Skills Test ($72.50 value). The winner of the Bronze medal, Marshak, will receive a $25 Starbucks gift card.

Many thanks to Debbie Kriegshauser for her hard work writing the speed tests and preparing the other testing materials. The contest would not have been possible without her.

Court reporters: Crucial and often unsung players in court, elsewhere

NCRA members and official court reporters from New Jersey, Argia Riggs, RDR, Lois McFadden, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Colleen Kisielewski, RMR, CRR, CRC, were featured in an article posted by The Burlington County Times on March 12 about the court reporting profession both in and outside of the courtroom.

Read more.

Former NCRA Member passes away

Dorothy Nell Bayless, of Plano, Texas, passed away on March 2. She was an Oklahoma state court reporter in the Osage and Tulsa County Court Systems and was chosen Oklahoma State Court Reporter of the Year while she was a reporter in Tulsa County.

Read more.