NCRA member shares how teenage intern inspires court employees while chasing her dream

Television station KRQE, Albuquerque, N.M., aired a story on Sept. 17 that features NCRA member Diona Gibson, RPR, an official court reporter for the Bernalillo County District Court, sharing her experience with a summer intern who was born blind and plans to become a court reporter.

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CASE scholarship winner in the news

Ann Marie Gibson

Mycentraljersey.com reported on Sept. 13, that Califon, N.J., resident Ann Marie Gibson, a student at the College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind., was awarded a $250 scholarship by NCRA’s Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) during its Convention & Expo held in August in New Orleans. The story was generated by a press release issued by NCRA on Gibson’s behalf.

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New Professional Reporter Grant awarded

Sidnee Baum

NCRF presented the 2018 New Professional Reporter Grant to Sindee Baum, from North Massapequa, N.Y.  Baum said that receiving the New Professional Grant means a lot to her and that she plans to use the funds toward paying off her school loan and to cover the expense of starting out with a professional machine and software.

NCRF awards the annual New Professional Reporter Grant to a reporter who is in his or her first year of work, has graduated within a year from an NCRA-approved court reporting program, and meets specific criteria, including a grade point average of 3.5 or above, a letter of recommendation, and current work in any of the career paths of judicial (official/freelance), CART, or captioning. The grant is in the amount of $2,000.

“For 21 years, I was a federal probation officer. I wrote the pre-sentence reports and sentencing recommendations for the judges and had to be present at sentencings. I was always fascinated by the court reporters and always made sure I stood near them to watch them work their magic on their machines,” Baum said.

“When I was getting close to thinking of retiring and what I wanted to do as a second career, the thought of becoming a court reporter popped in my mind one morning. I spoke to NCRA member Anthony Frisolone, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, one of the court reporters in my courthouse and a court reporter instructor, who thought the idea was an awesome fit for me. He even offered to be my mentor and helped me through the emotional roller coaster that court reporting school entailed. Well, I’m happy to share that I retired from my career as a federal probation officer as of September 1, 2017, and passed my last mentored exit speed tests that same week and graduated from school,” she added.

Baum, a graduate of the online program at College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind., is the 14th recipient of NCRF’s New Professional Reporter Grant. She was recommended by Jessica Vivas, client services manager and reporter liaison for Magna Legal Services based in New York.

“If Magna could only choose one goal, it would be to support and serve our clients to the best of our ability. Sindee Baum embodies this philosophy and is respected by our clients. We consider Sindee to be an asset to our court reporting team, and we look forward to working with her well into the future,” Vivas said.

For court reporting students getting ready to finish their programs and start their professional careers, Baum offers the following advice: “Practice like your life depended on it. Getting those last speed tests passed takes the most work and dedication out of all the tests you will take in school. Also, while completing your internship hours, make sure you are asking lots of questions and gaining as much experience as you can in various settings so that you will be able to hit the ground running at graduation and become a working reporter.”

To learn more about NCRF’s scholarships and grants, visit NCRA.org/NCRF/Scholarships.

NCRF announces winner of the Robert H. Clark Scholarship

Sydney Lundberg

Sydney Lundberg, a student from Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, Iowa, was named recipient of the 2018 Robert H. Clark Scholarship. This $2,000 scholarship is named for the late Robert H. “Bob” Clark, a court reporter from Los Angeles, Calif., who was dedicated to preserving the history of the profession. Lundberg is the fourth recipient of this scholarship.

In 2015, Clark’s family made a generous donation to NCRF to honor him, and NCRF created the new Robert H. Clark Scholarship. Students are nominated by instructors or other officials at their schools. To be eligible, nominees must be NCRA members, must be enrolled in an NCRA-approved court reporting program, must have passed at least one of their program’s Q&A tests at 200 words per minute, and must possess a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, among other criteria.

“Receiving this scholarship means to me that I will be able to finish school and begin working as a reporter even sooner. I am currently in the last part of my program, and this support will allow me to purchase professional equipment that will give me the last boost I need to graduate,” said Lundberg.

Lundberg heard about court reporting as a career through a family member. “My aunt is a captioner, and I was inspired by how she was able to capture the spoken word, work from home, and be so successful. After I graduate, my plans include working for a freelance firm in Des Moines, Iowa. I also plan on continuing to learn things about the profession, building my dictionary, and continuing to work on speed,” Lundberg said.

To learn more about NCRF’s scholarships and grants, visit NCRA.org/NCRF/Scholarships.

Firm owners donate Convention swag

The NCRA Student/Teacher Committee is grateful to the many people who generously donated to the student swag bags at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. Last February, the Committee sent out a call to the NCRA Firm Owners email list, asking firms to donate a little something extra (or “lagniappe” in New Orleans-speak) for the bags. Planet Depos sent in a great backpack, and the goodies kept pouring in to fill them up. Other Firm Owners donated pens, travel mugs, mouse pads, hand sanitizers, pens, sticky notes, keyboard brushes, pencil cases, candy, and more!

The Student/Teacher Committee would like to thank the following donors who contributed to this year’s student swag bags:

  • Alaris
  • Benchmark Reporting Agency
  • Doris. O. Wong & Associates, Inc.
  • Hanson Renaissance Reporting & Video
  • Jack W. Hunt & Associates
  • Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE
  • LNS Court Reporting & Legal Video
  • Memory Reporting, Inc.
  • O’Brien & Levine
  • OrangeLegal
  • Planet Depos
  • Rider & Associates, Inc.
  • Schmitt Reporting & Video, Inc.
  • Streski Reporting & Video Service
  • Summit City Reporting
  • U.S. Legal Support
  • West Coast Court Reporting & Video
  • Wood & Randall
  • YOM

A glimpse of the action

Last month’s NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La., was a great success. Student attendees were treated not only to some fun and informative seminars, but also a meet-and-greet with the NCRA Board of Directors. Student sessions included “Student Steno Speed Dating,” “Good Reporter/Bad Reporter,” “Online Skills Testing,” and “What I Didn’t Learn in Court Reporting School.” View the Complete Coverage of the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo article with many links.

Interning is a window into the real world

Nicole Johnson

by Nicole Johnson

When I first began my internship journey, I was scared. I was stepping out of my cozy comfort zone of court reporting school and into the “real world” (school is real too!) of lawyers and judges. I was also very close to some dangerous folks who’ve committed serious offenses, as well as funny witnesses who put the jury at ease. As a more introverted person, being around strangers every day is a bit stressful in itself. Then I realized I’m not the official reporter yet. I’m only here to learn how a real reporter handles situations, study how a courtroom works outside of television, and practice talking to unfamiliar faces in an environment that I am slowly easing my way into. Most importantly, I’m here to gain experience past what school has taught me and to put what I’ve been studying for the past six years to good use.

The first day I interned was a calendar day, and it went by really fast. It’s a room full of people and a judge going over all of their cases; the defense attorneys usually said their names at breakneck speed sans spelling. Lucky for me, I had a reporter who would give me a list of names when I would sit in with her. Those days are the most intense but still not as difficult as trying to pass all my 200 wpm speed tests.

Here in court, the bailiffs were cordial, the attorneys respectful, and the judges more than happy to talk court reporting shop with you. Everyone always seems genuinely interested in what you’re doing with that “funny looking machine.”

On top of interning in a courthouse, I’ve also participated in a few mock trials given by University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Those were honestly terrifying, and I didn’t know what I was walking into. In a mock trial, I was the reporter. Though I had a mentor who would occasionally come in the deposition room to see how things were going, this felt real. I had to produce a rough draft transcript, constantly interrupt an attorney who always spoke at 260+ words a minute unless he was addressing the jury, and had to keep track of all the different soon-to-be lawyers coming in and out of the room. It was a dizzying but great experience. The student lawyers were always happy to have a court reporter there. Once I was asked by an attorney for read back (thank goodness I had it), and she actually used what “Madame Court Reporter” said in her closing arguments (and won). It was gratifying to feel this job’s importance. It’s also satisfying to know that others rely on the words I’m taking down. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

I gained a lot of confidence doing mock trials and sitting in with reporters, gaining their knowledge, and learning new briefs. The real world, I realized, isn’t as scary as it seemed. It was actually better than I imagined. While I’m not a perfect writer, here is the perfect place to make mistakes, to try again the next day, to overcome any mental roadblocks, and to ask all the questions you want. You’ll end up working with the same attorneys, clerks, judges, and so forth, and everything will slowly fall into place.

I’ve realized that court, especially a trial, feels easier than school. I mean, school definitely prepares you, but nothing beats being there. You get accustomed to the way certain people speak, and there are a lot more pauses than in speed class.

I’m almost finished with my hours, and I’m going to continue sitting in with reporters even afterwards; because it’s fun, because I know I can do it, and because I can see myself in the reporter’s chair. My internship has given me more fire and motivation, and it’s the last step that will help me reach my full potential towards becoming an official reporter.

Nicole Johnson is a high-speed student at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif.

How to write super fast under stress

A blog posted on Aug. 2, by Kramm Court Reporting, addresses how the points made in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “The Uncomfortable Practice Habits of a Champion,” about Francesco Molinari’s win at the British Open Golf Championship, can be applied to court reporters and court reporting students.

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College of Court Reporting receives maximum initial grant of accreditation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Valparaiso, Indiana, July 17, 2018 – On June 29, 2018, College of Court Reporting (CCR) was granted a three-year grant of accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), the maximum available DEAC offers for new grants of accreditation.  According to DEAC:

Accreditation is a reliable indicator of the value and quality of the distance education that an institution offers. In receiving this initial grant of accreditation, CCR has demonstrated its commitment to educational standards and ethical business practices that assure quality, accountability, and improvement in higher education

Although CCR was already accredited through 2019 with the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), ACICS lost its federal recognition on Dec. 12, 2016.  CCR promptly applied for provisional certification through the Program Participation Agreement (PPA) issued by the U.S. Department of Education and was granted that certification on December 23, 2016.  This gave CCR time to find a new accreditor.  CCR worked tirelessly to have an active application for accreditation in process with DEAC, which was accepted in the summer of 2017.  CCR worked on modifying policies and procedures to meet or exceed DEAC requirements over the next nine months in preparation for a formal evaluation visit by DEAC.  On April 3, 2018, expert evaluators visited the CCR campus located in Valparaiso, Indiana, to interview administrators, faculty, and students as well as perform a comprehensive audit and assessment of CCR.  The confirmation of the grant of accreditation came almost three months later.

DEAC is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1926 that operates as an institutional accreditor of distance education institutions. Accreditation by DEAC covers all distance education activities within an institution, and it provides accreditation from the secondary school level through professional doctoral degree-granting institutions.  DEAC grants accreditation to institutions for a specific period of time, prior to the expiration of which the institution may reapply and again be evaluated. Grants of accreditation vary in length.  DEAC is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  The current DEAC Directory of Accredited Institutions is listed on www.deac.org.

This grant of accreditation is the culmination of almost two years’ worth of effort by all CCR administration and staff in making sure CCR’s doors remained open even when others thought they would close.  Moreover, in the face of uncertainty and dwindling hope for accreditation of private, post-secondary institutions, CCR continued to provide a top-notch court reporting education.  In fact, 23 students graduated during the last year, and CCR could not be more proud of their accomplishments.  Those students persevered in the face of challenges and obstacles in order to join a profession in dire need of keepers of the record.  Similarly, CCR met with challenges along the way, but its passion, belief in the importance of accreditation, and faith in its hard-working and dedicated student body propelled the school forward with a maximum initial grant of accreditation as its reward.

The College of Court Reporting has an online program that offers students an associates of applied science degree in court reporting.  For more information, contact our Director of Admissions, Nicky Rodriquez, at 866-294-3974 ext. 222 or nicky.rodriquez@ccr.edu.

 

An unforgettable Convention experience

What will you remember the most about this year’s Convention & Expo? Members of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee continue the conversation about their experiences at past Conventions. What were the most memorable moments? What or who made the most impact on them? Read their stories here, and next year you’ll be sharing your own stories…

Len Sperling

Whitney Berndt

A young woman and a young man stand next to each other smiling

Shaunise Day (left)

Gayl Hardeman

portrait of the author

Kay Moody

Callie Sajdera

Members of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee, Callie Sajdera, a student at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn., Gayl Hardeman, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, an instructor at Hardeman School (Tampa, Fla.), Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE, an instructor at College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., Len Sperling, CRI, an instructor at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Alberta, Canada, Whitney Berndt, a student at Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis., and Shaunise Day, a student at West Valley College in Oakland, Calif., offer their thoughts and advice for attending Convention.

JCR | What has been one of the best seminars or workshops you have ever attended at an NCRA Convention?

Callie | The best seminar I went to was with Margie Wakeman Wells at the Convention in Chicago, Ill. I was just out of Theory and learning the ropes of English and grammar. This was beneficial to me as a student who was just starting out, and she made it a lot of fun!

Gayl | Ed Varallo’s session on Notereading in 1973 in Seattle, Wash. I ended up training all of our typists and wrote a textbook on the subject two years later: Notereading: Twelve Weeks to a Career, as Gayl Hardeman Knaus (former married name).

Kay | They were all excellent. I always left a Convention “brain dead” with so much information and new ideas. I particularly enjoyed the initial seminars on technology when reporters were first learning about Computer Aided Transcription, CAT. There was always new knowledge or products for reporters, and there was so much to learn! I realized many years ago — we never stop learning — never!

Len | I remember attending a workshop on broadcast captioning. The session showed the importance of realtime in general, and the significant impact it would have on our industry’s future.

Whitney | I think my favorite seminar last year was the steno speed dating. It gave me such insight into all the amazing opportunities this career has to offer. I never knew some of those career paths existed.

Shaunise | I will never forget the seminar held in San Francisco, Calif., led by Clay Frazier and Kensie Benoit. I will always talk about this session and it should be a staple seminar that we continue to recycle as new students attend NCRA Conventions annually. Kensie and Clay presented on what you don’t normally learn in school. They put together a stellar presentation that focused on the importance of knowing your software, resume building, taxes, getting jobs, social media, and so much more. I hope we can continue to produce sessions that will focus on the steps a new reporter should take when it’s time to step foot in the real world of reporting.

 

JCR | Did you ever meet anyone at Convention who had a significant impact on your life or your career?

Callie | Yes. I met my mentor at the Chicago Convention two years ago. Her name is Anne Bowline from Casper, Wyo. She was on the Board at the time, and my director, Jennifer Sati, introduced her to me. She has been one of the greatest support systems that I have had throughout school, and she’s set an example for me as a professional and a future mentor.

Gayl | See above. I later married Ed Varallo, and he’s the one who got me interested in CART, which I’ve now done for 26 years.

Kay | Yes, not one, but many had a significant impact on my life and my school. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, many of the schools were owned by women and these brilliant women became my dearest friends. We shared materials, ideas, teaching techniques, visited their schools, etc., and have remained close friends throughout the years. Probably the only name students would recognize today would be my dear friend, Lillian Morson.

Len | There are too many to count. Most of these individuals are mostly educators who I have learned from and who have inspired me. I like to call them friends and feel I could call upon them at any time.

Whitney | At the Convention last summer, I met our current President-Elect, Sue Terry. Sue was so willing to express to me her love of this career and share some of the amazing experiences she has had. She was so sweet and inspired me to work hard to hopefully be given similar, incredible opportunities.

Shaunise | I have established countless relationships that will last a lifetime. I give thanks to NCRA for allowing me to develop these relationships. I remember during the lunch break at my first Convention, I didn’t have any plans for lunch. This was an awkward moment for me. I wasn’t the type at the time to even think about having lunch by myself in a restaurant. I decided I would grab something to eat and go sit in my car for the lunch break. I was so nervous once lunch time approached. Just as I was walking out of the hotel, I received a text from Charisse Kitt (If you are a student reading this, make sure your student badge is showing. Veteran reporters will embrace you once they see that you are a student), and she asked me if I wanted to have lunch with a group of reporters. The joy and happiness from that text made my entire weekend.

 

Don’t miss your chance to save on 2018 Convention registration fees. Register by July 23 to save!