Paying it forward

Stack of hands as if doing a team cheerBy Allison Kimmel

Do you remember the day you learned that you passed your RPR certification exam? I distinctly remember when I found out — Christmas Eve. I had taken the test in November of 1989. Every day I would come home from work and ask my husband, Bob, if I had gotten the results. Each time the answer was no. Unbeknownst to me, he had placed the results — unopened — in a wrapped box under the Christmas tree. It could have ended very badly had I not received positive news. He is a very blessed man.

Passing the RPR meant I passed muster and might be able to succeed in court reporting after all. Those credentials represented a lot to me then, and they still do to this day. The other professionals in my national association had given me their imprimatur, and I gleefully joined their ranks as a professional registered member.

Several years have passed since those early days, and I know that I would not be where I am today without the help of mentors and reporters sharing their experiences along the way. Those mentors and reporters began giving advice and encouragement from day one, and it has not stopped. I am lucky to have been surrounded by such a fantastic group of dedicated professionals.

We all have anecdotes of the valuable knowledge that others have passed along to us. To illustrate one such story and the long-term impact of a simple act, when I was a newly graduated reporter in 1987, Jean Long, RPR, graciously shared with me a medical term. She had spent some time looking for the proper spelling at one point in her career; the term was bruit. It is pronounced BREW-EE. She walked me over to the dictionary to point it out. I never forgot her short one-minute lesson.

A couple of years later, at a different court reporting agency, another reporter was struggling to find that exact word. I knew it immediately — not from school days, but from Jean’s lesson. It was time to pay it forward, and I proudly did.

After gaining some real-life experience and much-needed confidence, I came to the realization that it was not enough to be a contented dues-paying member in my professional associations. I wanted to do more. I had observed others volunteering and felt that I could offer perhaps a slightly different approach. It was time — time to repay all those gifts of knowledge and information that were so readily shared with me. I had received so many over the years.

I started out small. Volunteering was out of my comfort zone, and I truly wanted to be brave and emulate some of the best professionals in our business. The first time I volunteered for my state association was in 2002. We had a need to represent the court reporting profession at the All-Ohio High School Counselors Conference in Columbus. With another reporter, Lori Jay, RPR, CMRS, we were responsible for promoting the court reporting and captioning career choices to the school counselors who approached our table of brochures and equipment. Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC, provided a demonstration of realtime to the group by captioning the keynote speaker. We were enthusiastic, and we worked hard that day to advocate for our profession.

After that experience, I began helping my state association with administering the national certification exams, first as someone to assist and then as a chief examiner for the CRR tests. I tried to be the voice of calm for test candidates, and I enjoyed seeing the test candidates succeed. I also began assisting my state association at the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Court Technology Conference. With many vendors present touting their “technology,” it was an eye-opening experience. I now know just how crucial it is for court reporting associations to be represented at such events — and displaying the best we have to offer in court reporting and realtime technology. My state association members attend this event year after year without fail.

Fast forward a few years. Our state association needed members willing to serve on the board. After some persuasive discussion by Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, and a multitude of excuses on my end, I agreed to serve on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA). I came in as vice president and moved my way up the ladder. It was at that point that I began to understand the intricacies of leading, the minefields — some of which cannot be avoided — and the heavy lifting that volunteering involved. My prior volunteer experiences were rewarding but nowhere near as challenging. The successes were amazing; the failures devastating.

I was working as an official court reporter in state court during this time. My court administration seemed enamored with digital recording technology and eagerly proclaimed the cost savings to be realized to any who would listen. It appeared to be an uphill and frustrating battle.

Through the efforts of the late Jerry Kelley and other volunteers across the country, I quietly began to amass a database of current electronic and digital recording failures. It was an informal, unsanctioned effort, but the group saw a need. The database effort seemed a tad futile at times, but I can attest that the information gathered was useful at a key moment during my tenure on the OCRA board, particularly when the Cleveland Plain Dealer came calling for commentary on an article regarding the court reporter versus electronic and digital recording debate. That volunteer effort provided relevant, documented cases to cite, not just hearsay or conjecture. It was a small victory.

Coincidentally, it was around this point that Stephen Zinone, RPR, reached out to me about serving on the NCRA Cost Comparison Task Force. Our task was to do a complete analysis of the cost of digital recording technology versus a court reporter — using best practices for each. To say this was right up my alley is an understatement. Steve was a thoughtful, smart leader who asked for input from all of us. The entire group worked hard to make the Task Force’s white paper bulletproof. We accomplished our goal, though it took many emails, conference calls, an in-person meeting in Nashville, and a couple of years of persistence. To this day, when OCRA members attend the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Court Technology Conference, we have the white paper there to discuss with attendees.

That first experience serving as a task force volunteer at the national level gave me a huge sense of fulfillment. I was proud of our work, and I was hooked. I knew I could make a difference — if not for myself, perhaps for others.

Working with students as an adjunct faculty member for Clark State Community College is something I enjoy immensely, so signing up to work on the Item Writing Committee seemed a natural fit. Brenda Fauber, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CPE, served as the chairperson of the committee. The group met in the Washington, D.C., area. We spent time training with a professional consultant, and we discussed at length what is involved in writing proper written knowledge test questions using approved authoritative sources. (Yes, there is a question involving bruit — in case you were wondering. I’m paying it forward.) I continue to serve on the committee; along the way, I have begun serving on the Skills Test Writing Committee.

What an education I have received! I have gained a deeper appreciation of our national certification tests and the incredible vision of those who saw the necessity of certification. I have learned why, as a professional association, we must continually strive to ensure that the certifications are valid and fair measures of both the entry-level reporter and the seasoned reporter. Those who pass the NCRA certification tests can be confident that they, too, pass muster and have indeed earned a worthwhile achievement.

Comedian Lily Tomlin once stated, “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” This applies to each one of us. Let me ask: Who is better than those of us who are in the trenches to represent and understand the issues we, as a profession, face? Who is going to do the heavy lifting and advocating for our profession if we are not willing to step up and do it for ourselves?

Together, we can make a difference. The value of volunteer work benefits your professional associations and you. I could enumerate a variety of reasons to volunteer, but you know many of them already. Think about this: You make time for what matters to you. My profession matters to me. I sincerely hope it matters to you. We need you. We need more than your dues. We need your participation. We need your voice. We need your input and ideas. We need you at all levels, whether it is state or national. I urge you to be brave. Volunteer.

Why do I volunteer?

I volunteer to give back to a profession that I love. I volunteer to pay it forward and to thank those along the way who reached out a helping hand, gave me a word of advice, offered reassurance, and sometimes provided a swift kick in the rear or a shoulder to cry on. Volunteering is my way of saying thanks for making sure I passed muster, to thank those who came before me and those who will continue long after me. Thank you for being there.

 

Allison A. Kimmel, RDR, CRR, CRC, works as a reporter in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, and as an adjunct faculty member for the court reporting and captioning program at Clark State Community College.

Demand is growing in the captioning and court reporting profession

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAn interview with NCRA member Kelly Moranz, CRI, program manager and adjunct faculty at Cuyahoga Community College, Parma, Ohio, about the growing demand in the captioning and court reporting profession was posted Oct. 1 by Smart Business.

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Norwalk woman nationally recognized for court reporting

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Sept. 11, the Norwalk Reflector posted an article announcing that Marie Fresch, RMR, CRC, a freelancer and CART captioner in Norwalk, Ohio, had earned the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) certification. The article explained the requirements for earning the CRC, provided some background on captioning, and shared a few highlights from Fresch’s career.

The article was generated by a press release issued by NCRA on Fresch’s behalf.

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Clark State Community College and Stark State College join forces

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyClark State Community College and Stark State College — located in Springfield and North Canton, Ohio, respectively — have recently partnered on a joint online degree program in judicial court reporting as well as certificate programs in closed captioning and in CART captioning. The schools are also working together on a Discover Court Reporting event with the support of Mike Mobley Reporting, which has offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati. The event will be held on July 12.

The Ohio Court Reporters Association reported on this partnership in the spring/summer 2017 issue of the association newsletter (on page 18).

Tri-C annual open house boosts summer enrollment

The court reporting and captioning professions captivated attendees at the annual open house held April 25 by Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cuyahoga, Ohio. Sponsored by the college’s court reporting and captioning program, the event drew 75 attendees wanting to know more about the career choice and benefits.

Stefanie Sweet, a current student enrolled in Tri-C’s court reporting and captioning program, shares some insight into campus life and educational curriculum with open house attendees.

Stefanie Sweet, a current student enrolled in Tri-C’s court reporting and captioning program, shares some insight into campus life and educational curriculum with open house attendees.

According to Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C’s program manager, attendees got an overview of the court reporting and captioning professions, including information about various work venues, earning potential, flexibility, and the college’s program. Attendees then embarked on a speed networking activity that allowed them to ask faculty, professionals, and current students more about available career opportunities, campus life, and scholarships.

“The opening comments were captioned remotely and put onto a large-screen monitor to demonstrate how captioning works,” said Moranz. “Overall, the open house resulted in numerous inquiries about how to get started, and there has been an increased enrollment in our summer introductory courses.”

Other topics addressed during the speed networking activity included a brief overview of the theory of steno, the importance of good English and grammar skills required by court reporters, examples of real-life experiences shared by professionals currently working in the field, and the chance to try writing on an actual machine.

Tri-C court reporting professor earns national honor

JCR logoThe Cuyahoga Community College, Cuyahoga, Ohio, issued a press release on April 18 announcing that the JCR recently honored Jen Krueger, RMR, CRI, CPE, an associate professor of captioning, with an award for innovative use of technology.

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Tri-C open house to showcase captioning and court reporting

JCR logoThe Cuyahoga Community College, Cuyahoga, Ohio, announced in a press release issued April 17 that it will hold an open house on April 25 to showcase career opportunities in the growing field of captioning and court reporting.

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County not yet hit by court reporter shortage

jcr-publications_high-resSarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CRC, was interviewed about the court reporting profession in an article posted by the Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio, on Feb. 18. Nageotte, a past president of NCRA, is an official court reporter from Jefferson, Ohio.

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Students giving back to students

In the fall of 2015, Suzanne Rafferty and Kristina Carmody, court reporting students at the Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Cuyahoga, Ohio, co-founded a Court Reporting and Captioning Club with a mission to connect fellow students, support the profession, and help increase awareness about court reporting and captioning as viable career choices. Since the club’s launch, members have worked tirelessly to meet those goals. Recently, the club hosted its second Write-a-thon, a fundraising effort to raise monies to support court reporting students. In a recent interview, Rafferty, on track to graduate in 2017 and planning a career path in captioning work, talked about Tri-C’s Court Reporting and Captioning Club and the success it has had.

How long has the Captioning and Court Reporting Club been in existence?

Since 2015. We are the first club to include both online students and on-campus students. We have had students from Illinois and Pennsylvania travel to the campus to participate in person and connect with their fellow club members, too.

What is a Write-a-thon exactly?

tric-3_resizedClub members that signed up for the Write-a-thon were asked to obtain sponsors that would give money based on the number of hours the student would be writing. For example, I would get $10 for every hour I would write for the four-hour period. If I wrote for the entire time, I would collect $40 from the sponsor. We had a 10-minute break at the end of each hour. Sponsors were also able to donate a flat donation if desired. This year we did ask that everyone reach out to professionals as well as family and friends for sponsorship. All funds raised by the club are then matched by the college as well.

This is the club’s second Write-a-thon. How did the idea get started?

The idea came up at the beginning of last year when the officers and club advisors had a meeting and started brainstorming about what we could do to raise money for the club. It was a great way to earn money and bring exposure to the captioning and court reporting department.

Are there other aspects to the Write-a-thon event that help generate funds?

Our bake sale generated $370 this year, which is $100 more than what we generated last year. The bake sale runs concurrently with the Write-a-thon.

tric-1_resizedDo students from other departments in the school support your events?

Yes, other students support our events by purchasing bake sale goods at the bake sale table. It was held in the main concourse of our school.

What are the funds being raised for?

We are raising funds to go toward student memberships in state and national organizations, as well as helping cut the costs of required software and to attend court reporting conferences or conventions.

What other types of activities does the club partake in or sponsor?

Last year we had then-NCRA President Steve Zinone come out to talk to the group during Court Reporting & Captioning week. We had a CART provider do a webinar and talk to the students about what her job was like. We also had an adjunct psychology faculty member from Tri-C, Dr. Michelle Nicopolis, PCC, NCC, present a workshop about testing anxiety and lead the group through a guided imagery session. This month, we also collected socks to be donated to a shelter in conjunction with the counseling department.

Retired judge publishes book of practical law advice

The Medina [Ohio] Gazette posted an article on June 3 about Practical Tips for Trial Attorneys: A Conversation with Judge James L. Kimbler, which was released earlier this month. It is the first book by former Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler, who retired in late 2014. In the book, the Hon. Kimbler shares some advice about the law and courts.

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