Project preserving vets’ stories

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Seguin Gazette posted an article on Nov. 5 about a Veterans History Project event hosted by the Texas Court Reporters Association that captured the stories of five local veterans. The article quotes NCRA member Kathleen Ullrich, RPR, CRC, a local captioner who participated in the event.

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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.

WCRA honors NCRA President Chris Willette through NCRF donation

In August, the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association (WCRA) honored Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, on becoming NCRA’s 2017-2018 President through a generous Thoughtful Tribute donation to the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF). Willette, who was installed as NCRA President in August during the Association’s Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., is from Wausau, Wis., and is a past president of WCRA.

“WCRA made a donation in honor of Chris Willette’s NCRA presidency to help promote all the wonderful things that NCRF does for our national association, such as the Corrine Clark Professionalism Institute, the Legal Education Program, the Oral Histories Program, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project, and the Angels Program,” said Sheri L. Piontek, RMR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from Green Bay and current president of WCRA.

“Chris Willette has a longstanding history of giving back to our profession on both the state and national levels. WCRA wanted to acknowledge those accomplishments in a way that will continue those efforts as Chris has demonstrated countless times,” she added.

NCRF’s Thoughtful Tributes program provides donors the opportunity to honor important people in their lives, whether personal or professional.

For all donations received, no matter the amount, NCRF sends an acknowledgment of each gift to the honoree(s) directly or to the person’s family, as appropriate. For donations of $250 or more, the names of both the donor and the honoree are listed on NCRF’s Thoughtful Tributes website and appear on a plaque displayed at NCRA headquarters. All donations to the fund are 100 percent tax deductible as a charitable contribution.

For more information or to donate, contact B. J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director, at bjshorak@ncra.org, or call 800-272-6272.

What can you do in a month to earn CEUs?

A middle-aged white woman listens attentively during a workshop while taking notes.The Sept. 30 deadline for this year’s CEU cycle is coming up quickly, but there’s still time to earn a few more last-minute credits, both in person and online. Even if your CEU cycle isn’t ending this year, these ideas can help you stay on track and possibly even get that requirement done early.

Attend a webinar or e-seminar

Webinars and e-seminars are a great way to learn some new skills in the comfort of your own home and, in terms of e-seminars, on your own schedule. There are three 90-minute live webinars scheduled for this September:

If none of these webinars fit your schedule, check out the NCRA e-seminar library for 60- and 90-minute sessions on topics that include business, CART and captioning, ethics, grammar and language, history, official reporting, personal development, realtime, technology, and more.

Attend a pre-approved event, including state association conferences

Many state associations and other court reporter–related organizations are hosting conferences and seminars in September. In-person events give you the opportunity to network with other reporters and captioners while earning CEUs. Most events are one to three days, and several of them are in the first half of the month. Events are scheduled in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana/Wyoming/Idaho, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as Alberta, Canada, this month. Check out the full calendar of pre-approved events here, which includes the dates, location (geographic or online), and number of CEUs.

Learn CPR or first aid

The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and other organizations often host seminars on CPR or first aid. Perhaps you can organize a few colleagues from your firm, court, or even your local area to team up for an event nearby. Court reporters and captioners have to be prepared for anything, so why not add safety to your list of skills? Learn more about the requirements for earning CEUs by learning CPR or first aid on NCRA.org/WaysToEarn.

Transcribe oral histories

Members who participate in the Oral Histories Program through the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) may earn Professional Development Credits for their time. Members can apply up to 1.0 PDC to their CEU requirement per cycle. Transcribe a 30- to 90-minute pre-recorded interview of an American veteran, Holocaust survivor, or attorney who has provided pro bono services through Legal Aid. Many people find participating in the Oral Histories Program to be especially rewarding. “As court reporters, we sometimes are too focused on the financial side of what we do, but (volunteering) is giving back. Anyone thinking of participating in one of these events should just jump right in and do it. It’s well worth it,” said Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, an official court reporter from Arlington, Texas, and a U.S. Air Force veteran, who recently volunteered at NCRF’s third Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative at the 86th Military Order of the Purple Heart 2017 Convention held in Dallas. Learn more at NCRA.org/NCRF/OralHistories.

Get credit for past events

You may have already participated in activities that have helped you earn CEUs or PDCs during the last year, and the only thing you need to do is fill out the proper form to get credit. If you promoted the profession at a career fair, law school, or other event; provided pro bono services; served on a state association board or committee (including the United States Court Reporting Association); or participated in a formal mentoring program, you may qualify for credit for your volunteerism. You can submit these CEUs and PDCs here.

Cycle extensions

If you need a four-month cycle extension (to Jan. 31) to finish those last CEUs, you can fill out the CEU extension request form by Sept. 30. Note that the deadline to complete CEUs or to request an extension is the same date.

View the full list of qualified continuing education activities at NCRA.org/WaysToEarn. View other continuing education forms here or view your current transcript here. If you have any questions, please contact the NCRA credentialing coordinator.

NCRA member sworn in as state association director

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Victoria Advocate reported on Aug. 20 that Sonia G. Trevino has been sworn in for a two-year term as area director, seat 5, for the Texas Court Reporters Association.

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Small group, big learning at the NCRA State Leadership Conference

Group shot of the NCRA Leadership Conference attendees

Photo by Lindsay DeWaide, RMR, CRR

NCRA’s State Leadership Conference, held in late May in St. Louis, Mo., was the first to bring to bear the full weight of the national association to a regional event.

“Beyond a doubt awesome,” said Linda M. Dattilo, RPR, executive director for the Missouri Court Reporters Association, of the new regional focus. “I attended the [national-level] NCRA State Leadership Conference many years ago and NCRA Legislative Boot Camp, and I got far more out of this conference. Perhaps it was the smaller number of attendees or the terrific leaders who put the conference on. All I know is I have a lot of ideas now for the Missouri Court Reporters Association that I can’t wait to get working on.”

The smaller group size was cited as being conducive for greater learning and better camaraderie by many of the participants. The conference included presentations by NCRA President Tiva Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS; President-Elect Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC; Interim CEO & Executive Director Dave Wenhold; and Manager of State Government Relations Matt Barusch.

“I was presented with so much information, such as learning how to run an effective board meeting, understanding budgets, the nuts and bolts of association work, and how to communicate effectively with our members,” said Dana Webb, president-elect of the Tennessee Court Reporters Association. “The knowledge I derived from this conference will truly be invaluable as I embark on becoming president of the Tennessee Court Reporters Association, and it will help me to make the most of my leadership role to better our association and our profession.”

“They taught us so many helpful tools in leading an effective board meeting, recruiting new association members, ideas about promoting our careers to high school students, and so much more,” agreed Jill Pilkington, RMR, who is president-elect of the Nebraska Court Reporters Association.

“The regional leadership conference in St. Louis was, in my opinion, time and money well spent,” said Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR, who is a director for the Ohio Court Reporters Association. “It was gratifying to know that much of what is recommended by NCRA as to how to run a state organization the Ohio Court Reporters Association has already implemented. On the other hand, there was much that I, as an individual, did not know about processes and procedures. I think there is generally a fairly large knowledge gap between people’s perception of how things are run and the reality, and that gap, for me at least, has now been mostly filled.”

The conference was designed to provide state leaders with information about working as an association that is often not easily found elsewhere, including how to fulfill their roles as state leaders in line with industry best practices. In addition, state leaders exchanged information about what is going on in their states to build connections between organizations and individual state leaders.

“As a newer member to our State Board, I met some great leaders in our profession,” said Jackie Rupnow, RPR, CRI, who is part of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association board. “I loved that Tiva and Chris played an integral part of this training. Their insight was invaluable. I left this conference having made some lifelong friends, but, best of all, it reenergized me in wanting to do more for our profession and be a better leader. I would recommend this conference to anyone interested in gaining more insight into how to become a more effective leader.”

As Boardman summed up: “The best part of all: I got to finally meet some longtime online friends and made a lot of new ones from around the country.”

MCRA invests in NCRA presentation on protecting the profession

MCRA_2017Matthew Barusch, NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations, attended the Mississippi Court Reporters Association Annual Conference on April 27 in Biloxi to give a presentation on Protecting the Profession. In his presentation, Barusch outlined some of the issues facing court reporters in the states and discussed how to address these issues in a changing political climate.

“Giving this presentation to the Mississippi Court Reporters Association was truly a wonderful experience,” said Barusch. “This subject is critically important to the future of the profession, and I was honored and grateful to have the opportunity to teach reporters in Mississippi how to build their coalition and act as one to confront the challenges facing them.”

NCRA’s Government Relations staff is available to make presentations on this and other topics at your state convention. Email GovRelations@ncra.org to ask about getting a speaker.

VHP event hosted by ICRA in the news

JCR logoOn May 1, The Messenger, Fort Dodge, Iowa, posted an article showcasing a Veterans History Project event hosted by members of the Iowa Court Reporters Association and the 2nd Judicial District.

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ICRA seeks veterans to share their stories

JCR logoThe Iowa Court Reporters Association has invited veterans to share their stories for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project via an article posted on dailyiowegian.com on April 12. ICRA plans to hold the VHP Day during its annual convention in June.

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Consider a new career in court reporting

jcr-publications_high-resGood Day Wisconsin on FOX News 11, Green Bay, aired a story on Feb. 16 about court reporting that featured NCRA member Sheri Piontek, RMR, CRR, CRC. Piontek is president of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association.

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