Five ways to support the court reporting and captioning profession on #GivingTuesday

giving-tuesday-2016_jcrcomNCRA members and staff are all part of the service economy. NCRA members are keepers of the record, and NCRA staff serves its members. The profession has service in its blood, so NCRA is encouraging all members and staff to take part in #GivingTuesday on Nov. 29.

What is #GivingTuesday?

#GivingTuesday, an annual day of giving following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, was created in 2012 to empower a new community of philanthropists. #GivingTuesday is based on the concept that anyone, anywhere, can be a philanthropist. Participants don’t have to be billionaires to participate, and they don’t have to give funds. Giving can mean money, time, advocacy, or education.

On Nov. 29, NCRA members are encouraged to participate on #GivingTuesday

  1. Sponsor a student membership.

For many students, typical daily expenses combined with the cost of tuition means NCRA membership falls outside their budgeted expenses. Often when students choose which bills to pay, membership in NCRA falls off the list, despite the fact that being a part of the national association provides numerous resources, such as access to professionals for support and other benefits, that can help lead to finding jobs when they have graduated and are furthering their professional careers.

  1. Donate to NCRF.

The National Court Reporters Foundation raises funds throughout the year to support programs created to benefit the greater court reporting community. NCRF also awards four scholarships and grants to court reporting students and recent graduates each year. Donate to NCRF by calling 800-272-6272.

  1. Become a virtual mentor.

NCRA is committed to excellence both in the court reporting profession and in the next generation of court reporters. To this end, the Virtual Mentor Program brings working court reporters and students together, so students can get the guidance and encouragement they need and today’s court reporters can nurture the future of court reporting.

  1. Download crTakeNote.com brochures and posters.

Put up posters at local schools, libraries, and coffee shops. Do a presentation about becoming a court reporter for high school students, parents, and/or school counselors. Talk to a neighbor or friend about court reporting careers.

  1. Volunteer to serve on an NCRA Committee or in a leadership position and give back to the profession, make new friends, and establish new networks.

Learn 30 more ways to give back on #GivingTuesday.

Share how you plan to give on social media by using the #GivingTuesday and #crTakeNote hashtags.

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.

NCRA’s 2016 Convention & Expo: Something for everyone

Convention-JCRcom-BoxAdOnline registration for NCRA 2016 Convention & Expo happening at the Hilton Chicago, Chicago, Ill., Aug. 4-7, closes July 29, so hurry and register now to participate in the vast array of continuing education sessions, networking opportunities, certification preparation workshops for the Certified Realtime Reporter and the Realtime Systems Administrator, and, of course, all that’s new on the Expo floor.

Whether you are an official, freelancer, broadcast or CART captioner, legal videographer, educator, student, or legal services provider, this year’s schedule has something to help you be the architect of your future. Plus attendees who need CEUs can earn up to 2.45 of them with a full registration and optional workshops.

Among the educational session highlights are:

Freelancer business 101. Presenters: Lisa DiMonte, RMR, CMRS; Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS; Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR; and Dave Tackla, CLVS

Compassion fatigue and job stress. Presenter: April Kopp, LCSW, MFA

Your cloud-based office. Presenters: Nancy Bistany, RPR and Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CRC

The secret business of court reporting. Presenter: Debbie Bridges Duffy, RPR

Beyond the captions:  Captioner roundtable. Presenters: Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CRC; Bill Graham; and Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR

90 apps in 90 minutes. Presenter: Sara Wood, CAE

Tax tips for court reporters. Presenter: Charlotte Ogorek

Best practices for realtime reporting. Presenters: Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC; Christine Phipps, RPR; and Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR

Anywhere, anytime:  Online testing. Presenter: Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE

Are you an independent contractor or an employee? Presenter: Chris Wojcicki

Video equipment configuration:  Real world equipment setups. Presenters: Richard Hayden, CLVS, and Jason Levin, CLVS

In addition, students, educators, and school administrators will enjoy a selection of sessions tailored specifically to their interests and needs.

Other highlights for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo include professional speaker and humorist John Wagner, who will address the topic of “Pride in the Profession” when he takes the stage as the keynote presenter during the Premier Session; the national Speed and Realtime Contests; the installation of NCRA’s 2016-2017 Officers and Board of Directors; and the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award bestowed by NCRA. Networking opportunities will include receptions, the annual awards and NCRF Angels luncheons, and the President’s Party.

Remember, the deadline for online registration is July 29. For more information and to register for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

Labor of love

By the NCRA Student Committee

“You should treat court reporting school as a full-time job.”

This mantra is repeated to students as a reminder that total concentration and dedication is the key to getting through school quickly. While this a worthy endeavor, more often than not, students will have to consider working at some point while in school to make ends meet. The cost of enrollment, equipment, and the sheer amount of time that it can take to get through school can be a steady and ruthless drain on one’s savings.

Labor of loveThe decision to take on a job, however, isn’t an easy one to make; a litany of pros and cons have to be weighed before taking the plunge. Will a job take precious time away from studying, only further prolonging your graduation date? Can a job give you a chance to put your current stenography skills to use and build a valuable network even before stepping into the working world? Or can even some seemingly unrelated jobs provide not only a blissful break away from studying but also unique opportunities to hone other skills that will help you on the job?

We asked students and working reporters about their experiences as working court reporting students and came back with a variety of stories that may surprise you.

Jobs to jumpstart careers

When most students think about picking up side jobs while in school, they hope to find something that ties in closely with their future career goals. Luckily, court reporting and the legal field provide a wide variety of venues for students to jumpstart their careers before graduation.

***

I am currently an employee at a local court reporting firm. I am in the production department, and I produce and bind transcripts our reporters turn in. I absolutely love working there because it immerses me into the world of court reporting. I am getting to meet and make friends with reporters who are more than happy to let me sit in their depos and can’t wait for me to finish school. I am learning so much from having access to those kinds of resources and being able to ask all of my questions. The connections I have made and continue to make are helping me as a student and will continue to help me when I become a working reporter.

They are extremely flexible and love that I am a student. In fact, when they were hiring, they specifically asked for court reporting students. They are very understanding of my schedule and work with me when needed. Just recently I had to do a summer semester of school synchronously from work, and they allowed me to use one of their conference rooms. I went to school for two hours and then came right back to work. They are very accommodating and extremely understanding. They can’t wait for me to transition from an employee to a resource as a court reporter.

— Lauren Bettencourt, San Jose, Calif.

***

In 2014, I graduated from Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. In addition to scoping, I work as a legal assistant. I started working as a legal assistant in a law firm the year I started court reporting school. I am currently working towards passing the last two legs of the RPR, and I still enjoy both my jobs. Working at a law firm has been a great experience for me, and I think it is a job that a court reporting student can really use to his or her benefit. I have learned so much about the legal field, and I have a better understanding of legal terms and processes. This job is a great way to use those punctuation and proofreading skills that are extremely important in this line of work. I also get the chance to meet attorneys and court reporters, and they are always supportive when finding out that I am working towards certification.

I started off doing basic case filing at the firm. My duties now range from drafting correspondence and preparing discovery to case organization and even some light transcription. A task that is especially interesting for me is summarizing depositions. Besides noting the similarities and differences between each deposition, I am learning from examples on how reporters deal with tricky punctuation issues. I look forward to the day when I will be the certified reporter responsible for a transcript. Until then, I will continue to use this experience as an extension of court reporting school while cultivating my legal vocabulary and understanding of the legal industry.

— Gretchen House, Phoenix, Ariz.

***

I have two experiences as a student. One, myself being a student, as well as being a child of a student. When I was in school, my job was to get through school. I waitressed at a high-end restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights to take care of my responsibilities. All other time was spent on the machine. By the time of 150 and beyond, practice was a minimum 20 hours out of school a week and at least 12 hours at school.

My mom graduated court reporting school in 19 months. I was 14. She went to school, raised three kids, and helped my dad run his business. I’m truly amazed by her perseverance. She would practice everywhere in crazy noise levels, etc., with her headphones on. Her example to her children would fill too many pages and would still not be able to describe all that she taught us about being independent, the ability of caring for others emotionally, physically, and financially, and never, ever giving up on goals no matter the sacrifice to achieve them.

I know some students have to work. There is no other choice. For those that have some flexibility, I do encourage you to look at how many hours you are not spending at your machine as a low-income job, where if you practiced an additional 16 hours a week, you could get out of school six months earlier, and your bottom line will be much better off!

Kelly Linkowski, Rittman, Ohio

NCRA Student Committee member

***

Since starting court reporting school in 2011, I have been a full-time employee by day and a full-time student by night. From 2011-2012, I worked at a law firm in downtown Los Angeles. Since 2012, I work at a court reporting agency full time, answering phones and managing the calendar, transcript production, and video production. In addition to my work for Bayside, I also answer phones and manage the calendar for four other CSR-owned court reporting agencies. Needless to say, I am usually pretty busy at work every day, and taking a vacation is not easy to do as I am the only one who works in the office.

I love what I do, though, as it is teaching me how to become a good court reporter before I graduate, and what to do and what not to do once I pass the CSR. I have five amazing bosses I can look up to and ask any questions I may have, and they educate me on how they would personally handle situations that come up at the office. The absolute hardest thing about working full time and going to school full time is coming home after work and not getting to plop down and just relax after a long day of work. Somehow within myself I have to find the desire and motivation to practice. I’m not going to lie, there have been days where I just can’t convince myself to get on my machine. It’s a daily battle my brain and body have. I entice myself by setting up rewards after a practice session. “Practice for one hour, have a bowl of ice cream. Practice for one more hour, watch a TV show.” For a while I debated about staying at my current job as an office manager instead of becoming a court reporter, but I realized that as much as I love my job more than any other job I’ve had before, I know I’m going to love being a CSR more.

— Celeste Poppe, Los Angeles, Calif.

Working for the paycheck

But what about those who may have a job that’s completely unrelated to court reporting? It just takes a creative mindset to see the benefit in any job and to trust that everything you do your in life is working towards that singular goal.

***

Learning stenography is a tough task, but learning stenography while working a full-time job is even harder. To pay for my one-bedroom apartment, tuition, bills, and life in general, I work as a server/waitress. I do like my job, but like most jobs, some days are much harder than others. The flexibility of my schedule, the earning potential and, well, the earning potential is what keeps me going. I love it when people are nice to me, respectful of my job and what I’m doing, and compensate (tip) me appropriately. Some people are rude and even disrespectful, but I always remember that not all people are like that and that my job still needs to be done. Because of this job, I’ve bettered my communication skills and am able to pay to live and survive. I’ve met some very interesting people while serving, many of whom are understanding of how difficult it is to learn steno and respect me for that along with working full time. Overall, I’m very thankful for this job and all the skills it has provided me. But I can’t wait to change chapters and begin my new career as a certified court reporter.

— Jeannin Alexis, Atlanta, Ga.

***

While a full-time, high-speed student, I also currently work full time as an e-commerce specialist for a biotech company. It’s not easy. My day starts at 3:30 a.m., and I usually work between eight and ten hours per day, plus some weekends. For a long time I was unhappy about this, wishing that I could attend school full time and not have to work. However, I decided to change my thoughts and think of the good it does for my future as a stenographer.

Working at my job has taught me strong work ethics, and I know what it takes to meet crucial deadlines, be professional and punctual, and work well under pressure. I currently deal with end-users who have heavy accents; so I’m getting acclimated to the accents I will hear on the job. I’ve worked closely with government agencies dealing with contracts, government grants, stem cell research, and laboratory instruments. You just never know what will come up in court, captioning, or in a deposition; so the exposure to such a wide variety of fields is invaluable. I decided to look at the bigger picture and remind myself that just because I have to work and bring in a steady income, everything is about timing. There are advantages and disadvantages to working while attending school, but the good news is that as long as you work hard, regardless of what the circumstance may be, it will pay off in the end, and the labor will be well worth it.

— Shaunise Day, Oakland, Calif.

NCRA Student Committee member

***

While I was in school, I took up a promotions job to help cover expenses. Most of the time, I was the “Bud Light Girl,” doing promotions during sports games at local bars and restaurants. It was a flexible, good-paying job that didn’t interfere with daylight school hours or practice time. While it didn’t give me much experience for court reporting, it absolutely taught me how to converse with a wide variety of people. Writing well and producing good transcripts is only half of the job — you have to be friendly and able to sell yourself, too!

— Anonymous

***

Of all the advice I’ve received about being successful in school, the piece about occasionally stepping away from the machine is one that I take to heart, so I enjoy doing a job that’s completely separate from court reporting: art modeling. What could be further from finger drills and legalese than art? As a part-time gig, art modeling pays well for relatively little effort, the schedule is entirely customizable, the audience is always interesting, and the work is very satisfying — you’re creating art right along with the artist without even picking up a brush.

As separate and apart as it seems, however, I’ve still managed to find some tie-ins to court reporting. Art models find work either through guilds (think firms) or through word of mouth (think freelance reporters.) The job still demands professionalism, timeliness, and a willingness to adapt to your clients’ needs; and your product (poses) is what speaks for you. Once you’ve developed a good rapport with the artist or group, they will ask you back by name. And once you’ve worked for a variety of clients, you’ll learn to be more discerning of where you spend your time and energy based on a group’s rates, method and speed of payment, and tendency to leave good tips. When my daily schedule consists almost exclusively of court reporting, I appreciate the reminder that there is a world out there that is just as beautiful and deserving of celebration as court reporting.

— Katherine Schilling, San Jose, Calif.

NCRA Student Committee member

***

For as long as there has been court reporting school, there have been students working their way through school. So if you’re finding yourself in a position where you need to bring in additional income as a student, know that many others have come before you and many more will come after. It always helps to hear what other students have done in your same situation, but know that whatever decision you make will ultimately be the right one for you. Just remember that we’ll all be at the finish line together, welcoming you into your new career.

This article was put together by members of NCRA’s Student Committee.

Tri-C court reporting program open house draws large crowd, generates interest in profession

Signing in at the Tri-C open houseThe court reporting program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Parma, Ohio, hosted its largest open house ever on April 19, attracting 92 attendees interested in learning more about the court reporting and captioning professions.

The event, which was also captioned to provide those attending with a better understanding of realtime, outlined the various areas of court reporting and benefits such as flexibility, salary, and employment opportunities. A speed-networking session allowed attendees the opportunity to spend a few minutes with a variety of working court reporters, faculty members, and students from the program to ask questions and learn more about the profession.

Participants in the speed-networking portion addressed questions about speedbuilding, steno theory, CART and captioning work, the importance of English and grammar skills to succeed in the profession, what it is like to distance learn, Tri-C Court Reporting and Captioning Club activities, the student experience, and available scholarships.

Suzy Rafferty, Tri-C student, talks to attendees during the speed networking session at the Tri-C open house NCRA Immediate Past President Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from Jefferson, Ohio, was also on hand to share information about the benefits of membership in NCRA and the Ohio Court Reporters Association.

“I was invited to speak about working as an official court reporter as well as about the importance of membership in professional associations while in school as a student in addition to as a professional in the field,” said Nageotte.

“While I was speaking specifically to my experience in working in the court systems of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and now the federal courts, I was fortunate to be able to refer to all arenas encompassed within the profession, including CART and broadcast captioning and freelance reporting and the benefits to each,” said Nageotte.

Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C’s court reporting program manager and an adjunct faculty member, talks to attendees during the speed networking session at the Tri-C open houseNageotte said that the strong interest expressed by attendees about the 100 percent placement rate for graduates of Tri-C’s program also prompted her to share the information about retirement rates and job opportunities for the future in the profession based on the findings of the 2013-2014 Industry Outlook Report by Ducker Worldwide commissioned by NCRA.

According to Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C’s court reporting program manager and an adjunct faculty member, the attendees represented a mix of all ages and demographics. She said that they had heard about the event either through stories featured by local print and broadcast media outlets, demonstrations and presentations at career fairs and community events, or a flyer they received in the mail.

The speed networking session at the Tri-C open house.“We had very positive feedback on the effectiveness of the speed-networking format in providing information along with insight into the program and profession,” said Moranz.

Moranz said after the event she received a number of emails from attendees expressing interest in enrolling in the Tri-C program as well as from one parent who wrote: “It was very informative, and what a turnout! I may pass this info on to my daughter. Thanks for inviting me.”

The event wrapped up with attendees having the opportunity to ask additional questions, try their hand at a steno machine, and learn more about Tri-C’s program and application process.

DMACC court reporting students get first-hand tour of state Supreme Court

Students and staff from DMACC pose in front of the Iowa Supreme Court.On April 6, more than two dozen students from the court reporting program at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) had the opportunity to tour the Iowa Judicial Building and Iowa Supreme Court.

The tour was arranged by DMACC adjunct professor of CART, Cathy Penniston, RPR, CRI, to provide students with the opportunity to become familiar with the state’s judicial system, experience a live courtroom event, and learn from Iowa’s leading jurists. Penniston, who also is a CART provider, had previously worked with one of the judges. Also accompanying the students were Dr. Patti Ziegler, CRI, CPE, the program’s chair, and instructor Deb DeBuc.

During their visit, the students had the opportunity to meet with the Hon. Michael Mullins and the Hon. David Wiggins in the Court of Appeals. The meeting was followed by observing an hour of oral arguments in a live courtroom setting.

DMACC is the only school to offer a realtime court reporting program in Iowa. The program, launched in 2014, was recently certified by NCRA.

According to Ziegler, the students were very appreciative of the tour and expressed a great deal of positive feedback.

NCRA member develops Steno Arcade to promote learning steno and keyboarding

Steno Arcade LogoIn March, Mirabai Knight, RDR, CRR, CRC, and The Open Steno Project launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund the development of a series of games called Steno Arcade. Knight, a CART captioner in New York, N.Y., founded The Open Steno Project (which was originally called The Plover Project) in 2010.

Steno Arcade has been developed in conjunction with For All To Play, a game studio that designs and develops video games that are accessible to people with visual, hearing, physical, and cognitive disabilities. The first game in the series, Steno Hero, is now available for download for free. The press release compares Steno Hero with “singing karaoke with your fingers,” but it can also be compared to the popular video game Guitar Hero. Players hit steno chords or keyboard keys to produce the lyrics of music while the song plays; it can be played using either a steno or QWERTY keyboard. Players can use either the Plover software or any professional court reporting software, such as Case CATalyst, Eclipse, and DigitalCAT. Currently there are four songs by artist Jonathon Coulton, with more in the works, at a variety of speed levels.

“A lot of people learned to type using typing games, and some QWERTY-style typing games are useful for drilling certain steno skills, but we realized that there were some aspects of the steno learning process that needed direct, focused attention (like steno layout drilling, stroke rhythm, and dictionary building) and there aren’t any QWERTY-style typing games that can help with those skills. So we decided to build our own. The great thing about video games is that they can easily be calibrated to your own skill level, so that they’re just challenging enough to be worth playing, but not so hard that you give up in frustration,” said Knight.

While The Open Steno Project has had a free online textbook for users to teach themselves steno, Knight saw value in developing a game: “I thought that a game would be a much more compelling and less intimidating way to learn steno fundamentals than a textbook, and I imagined an old-fashioned arcade-style game suite (I am a child of the ’80s, after all) that would walk people through different aspects of steno using fun, fast-twitch games to hone each skill.” The other games in the series will teach skills that include steno keyboard layout, common chord combinations, drilling common one-stroke entries, and turning multisyllabic works and phrases into briefs. Knight also hopes to not only develop more songs for Steno Hero but also give the user the ability to use any song files in their personal library.

The crowdfunding campaign will run for several months with perks at different funding tiers such as steno keyboard stickers, Steno Hero t-shirts, and “an online steno tutoring session and/or Plover training session from [Knight], for people who would like a little personal guidance rather than just jumping into the game feet-first.” Knight said, “The game will be released for free no matter how much funding we get, but the more money we receive, the more games we’ll be able to develop.”

According to Knight, the game has the potential to benefit a variety of audiences. “As a professional, I find the game really fun and relaxing. I used to warm up to music before taking my certification tests, and I think that would have been even more satisfying with a point-scoring system like Steno Hero has. It’s also fun to compete with colleagues in a friendly way to see who can get the highest scores,” she said. “Students will definitely find the game helpful; they can start on the slower songs and slowly work their way up to faster and trickier ones. When the other games are developed, they’ll be able to make levels out of their steno coursework by uploading vocabulary lists and then drilling them in a way that will probably be a bit more engaging than just dry dictation drills.”

But Knight is looking beyond the typical professional court reporter and captioner or court reporting student for potential audiences. For instance, using For All To Play as a developer was a conscious choice. “They focus on building screen reader–accessible games, and it was important to me that Steno Arcade would be accessible to screen readers, because I have a pet theory that blind and low vision people would make better than average stenographers, since they tend to listen to synthesized speech at over 400 words per minute on a daily basis. When Steno Arcade is complete, I’m going to do a lot of outreach to the blind and low vision community, and hopefully I will be able to recruit a substantial number of amazing new stenographers to our ranks while helping to tackle the chronic underemployment problem in the blind and low-vision community.”

Knight also emphasizes the value of the game for younger players. “I know a lot of professional court reporters and captioners have said that they’d like to interest younger friends and relatives in their profession but aren’t sure where to start. This would be a great opportunity to start building steno skills in kids while they’re still young.”

Finally, by designing an accessible and entertaining game, Knight hopes Steno Arcade will open up stenography to a wider audience. “One of the precepts of The Open Steno Project is that you can’t have a thriving professional community without an even larger amateur scene, and this allows people to dip their toe into steno in a low-cost, low-pressure way, without committing to anything,” said Knight. “Some people might play for a while and then decide steno isn’t for them, some might start using steno in their daily life but not want to make it their career, but some might just fall in love with it and decide to pursue it as a profession. I’m hoping to revitalize the industry by making steno the coolest method of text input in the universe, and I think this game is the best possible way to accomplish that goal.”

Read more.

 

The value of membership

ValueofmembershipWhat are the primary reasons that court reporters and captioners become and stay members of NCRA? In many surveys, members have listed the JCR and the JCR Weekly, which keep them informed of the latest news in the profession; their hard-earned national certifications, which offer them ways to highlight their skills and professionalism; the many continuing education and networking opportunities available through NCRA; and many other benefits as reasons they join and renew their membership.

But for a more personal take, the JCR reached out to a few members who told us why they think belonging to NCRA is so important, not only for them, but for others as well.

“There is no better way to stay informed about reporting than through the JCR and attending conventions. Being a dues-paying member means you belong to the association that represents one of the great professions, ours, and interacts with another, the law,” said Patric Martin of Bethesda, Md., who joined when he first started reporting in 1978.

“I have always liked seeing what is going on in the profession and being able to read about issues and new things on the horizon. The best benefit, I believe, is the equipment and liability insurance. I have also started using Amplify for deep discounts at Staples. I’ve already saved more than $100 this year on paper, toner, and my regular office supplies,” said Elsa Jorgensen of Birmingham, Mich., who has been a participating member of NCRA since 2002 when she transitioned from student membership.

“It’s good to be aware of issues affecting reporters,” continues Jorgensen. “Even though there may be disagreement on certain things, we’re still stronger as a group than as individuals.”

“I’ve held membership with NCRA since the moment I found about it,” said Katherine Schilling, a student member who is based in San Jose, Calif. “When I first started my membership, I only had my eye on getting the monthly JCR magazine as part of it. The JCR has always held a special place in my heart because it was integral to my falling in love with the profession. I’ll never forget the first article I read, ‘A Day in the Life,’ when I found a stack of magazines in the classroom. After that, I was hooked. Just a year later, the annual NCRA Convention & Expo was coming to my backyard, San Francisco, and I learned what a benefit it is to be a student member so that I could get the student member registration rate.”

“The professional tips, ideas, and information are vital to keeping your career interesting and moving forward. Through the NCRA, we can learn from the best of the best,” said Jorgensen. “I look up to so many reporters and, because of them, I aspire to always be a better writer, a better professional, and a better representative of this amazing career.”

Martin, who works at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., recently paid for a number of student memberships so that financially conscious students who were interested in being part of NCRA could be involved.

“When a student gets out of school and is ready to become a working reporter, having a couple years of NCRA membership under their belt gives them a head start,” Martin says. “NCRA has ways to help, and unless you are a member you won’t be able to take advantage of them, the least of which is just reading the JCR and what working reporters and new reporters have to say. More than likely, you will encounter the same issues you will read about.”

“Nowadays, the value of my membership is most evident in the RPR tests,” says Schilling. “I am currently striving to pass the final leg of the RPR, and I now see my membership as giving me access to these tests several times a year. Looking back on it, it’s interesting to see how the value I’ve placed on my NCRA membership has evolved as I’ve progressed through my school career. I guess I could say that my NCRA membership has evolved with me.”

“Over my 38 years in the profession, I’ve let my membership and my certifications lapse. I’ve passed the RMR twice, as well as the CRR, but currently don’t hold those certifications,” said Martin. “There is no excuse, really, and I can only say life intervened. But, as you go forward, become a member, strive for certifications, and don’t let them go. They are golden, as is NCRA. I encountered a reporter from Boston, Mass., in New York City last year, who happened to be in town, but not for our fantastic convention. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t support the profession by simply being a member. And she was quite open on how well she was doing. So, why can’t you support the profession by being a member, I wondered. Her answer was, ‘They don’t need my support.’ That is one of the greatest fallacies ever uttered. Now more than ever, every single member counts.”

Court reporting and captioning club raises funds, builds camaraderie

IMG_1072_BFor a group of students from the court reporting program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), in Cleveland, Ohio, what started as an effort to individually raise money to help them get to the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo in New York City led to the launch of a formal Court Reporting and Captioning Club. The club now includes 50 members and growing, according to Kristina Carmody, one of the club’s founders.

“Fundraising can only be done on the campus if you are a part of an officially recognized club for organizational purposes. Now we have the ability to hold more fundraisers to accomplish our goals and share the proceeds with more of the students in the program,” said Carmody, who helped establish the club along with fellow students Blanca Flores Robinson, Karen Herr, Suzy Rafferty, and Amy Williams.

And share the proceeds they have. In celebration of NCRA’s 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week held Feb. 14-20, the club was able to host a meet-and-greet event that featured NCRA President Steve Zinone as keynote speaker. Zinone, RPR, an official court reporter from Pittsfield, N.Y., spent most of the day with the Tri-C students before formally presenting a keynote address. He spoke of his own professional career background, encouraged students to keep striving to succeed in their program, and gave them tips to help reach their goal of a golden ring of opportunities.

“It is always an honor and a privilege to speak to students and encourage them and explain to them the many opportunities there are in our industry for professional court reporters, stressing to reach for that golden ring because it does exist,” said Zinone. “It is imperative to connect with our students and impress upon them that all of us at one time or another experienced bumps in the road as we progressed through school and that through hard work, determination, proper mentorship, and instruction, they too will matriculate and become successful court reporters.”

According to Carmody, the main purpose of the club now is to rally students who want to learn more about the field and have a passion for court reporting. The club allows members to participate in activities that foster student success, provide a sense of support and community, aid with fundraising efforts, and offer networking opportunities.

Club members also work to promote interest in the court reporting and captioning fields as well as engage in activities that build their skills and knowledge before entering the field, Carmody said.

“The camaraderie among members of the club is inspiring and motivational, keeping us all focused on our ultimate success and goal of becoming captioners and court reporters,” said Carmody. “Planning events to connect the club members with working professionals has been exciting. Those are the biggest benefits.”

IMG_1084_B“Tri-C is an exceptional program, with exceptional instructors and dedicated students,” said Zinone. “Visiting Tri-C was very special to me because having met some of the students at last year’s Ohio Court Reporters Association’s convention in Columbus, and then again at NCRA’s annual convention in New York in August, I have been very fortunate to spend quality time with them during their matriculation through school. It was a great opportunity to spend time with them during Court Reporting and Captioning Week. They really are a special group and have helped me enjoy my year as NCRA President because our visits are really priceless,” he added.

In addition to his visit to Tri-C, Zinone also participated in a presidents’ roundtable in celebration of 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. The roundtable, hosted by the College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Ind., was moderated by the school’s president Jeff Moody and was made available to court reporting students from all schools via the college’s Blackboard Collaborate system.

Joining Zinone on the panel were Tonya Kaiser, RPR, CMRS, a freelance reporter from Fort Wayne and president of the Indiana Court Reporters Association; Susan Gee, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Cincinnati and president-elect of the Ohio Court Reporters Association; and Kathy McHugh, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Philadelphia and president of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association.

More than 30 participants joined the discussion to hear what the panelists had to say about the greatest challenges they faced in court reporting school and how they overcame them. They also discussed how they were motivated to become leaders within their associations, the benefits of membership at the state and local levels, and the importance of certification.

“We are all former students, and I’m sure we all remember a working reporter speaking to us as students and making a positive impression, which created optimism and motivation for us as we progressed through our studies as court reporters in training,” Zinone said.

 

What Tri-C students had to say about Zinone’s visit and keynote address:

“I’ve never been so motivated to practice after hearing someone’s life experiences.”

“Thank you for asking Steve Zinone to come speak with us. He was very informative and interesting!”

“I really enjoyed Stephen Zinone’s talk today! Thanks to all who made it possible and for including distance learners who couldn’t be there in person. I took so many great things away from it!”

“We greatly appreciated Mr. Zinone taking his time to come and share his experiences and tips for success in school and in the field. I look forward to seeing him in Chicago at the NCRA Conference!”

“Steve is really very inspiring and down to earth! I’m so glad I could be there.”

Nominations being accepted for the 2016 CASE Award of Excellence and student scholarships

Bonnie R. Shuttleworth, CRI, CPE, an instructor at College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Ind., was named 2015 Educator of the Year

Bonnie R. Shuttleworth, CRI, CPE, an instructor at College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Ind., was named 2015 Educator of the Year

The Council on Approved Student Education has announced that it is now accepting nominations for the Award of Excellence to an Outstanding Educator, which recognizes an instructor’s dedication to students and extraordinary contributions to reporter education. Recipients are nominated by students, fellow faculty members, administrators, or NCRA members. The deadline for nominations is April 16.

CASE is also accepting applications for three student scholarships in the amount of $500, $1,000, and $1,500. Applicants must meet a number of requirements to be eligible, including attending a NCRA-certified court reporting program and writing between 140 and 180 wpm. Applicants must submit three recommendation forms and a two-page essay on a pre-selected topic. Nominations and applications are being accepted through April 16.

Read more about the CASE Award of Excellence.

Read more about the CASE student scholarships.