Get comfy for professional development: Exciting upcoming NCRA webinars

Front view of a person sitting barefoot on a couch with their laptop on their knees, blocking their faceCourt reporters and captioners understand the value of continuing education and always improving one’s skills, but it can be challenging to attend in-person events. With NCRA webinars, you can learn more about your profession from the comfort of your own home or office (not to mention that you can attend them in your slippers – no one will know!).

NCRA has a wide variety of topics coming up in the next month. The JCR Weekly reached out to the presenters to help whet your appetite.

On Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. ET, Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR, CRI, will present “Intersteno: Berlin and Beyond.” Pittman is a freelance reporter from North Carolina who has a passion for Intersteno. Intersteno is “a worldwide community uniting all those using a full range of speed writing methods to quickly produce high quality texts” (including steno lovers, keyboarding champions, and verbatim writers), and they host an international Congress every two years. In this 90-minute webinar, Pittman will talk about the networking and competition opportunities at Intersteno. She describes it as “international travel that is also a business expense” and explains that Intersteno attendees “learn about reporting in other countries while exploring fantastic locations.” The 2017 Intersteno Congress was held in Berlin, Germany (NCRA members performed very well in the competitions), and the next event is in 2019 in Sardinia, Italy.

On Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. ET, Lisa Jo Hubacher, RPR, CRI, will present “Thinking about Student Training.” Hubacher is an instructor at Madison Area Technical College (which is also her alma mater) in Madison, Wis. Madison Area Technical College received one of the final Training for Realtime Writers grants in 2014 due to its curriculum redesign. In this webinar, Hubacher will discuss this curriculum model, including the redesign’s impact on the program, what’s working, and what needs tweaking. As she describes it, the webinar will cover “how to design a program based on student needs without any curriculum-design knowledge.” Hubacher says she’ll also talk about why “‘But that’s the way we’ve always done it’ doesn’t fly anymore.” This is a must-attend webinar for anyone involved in training reporting students!

On Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. ET, Santo J. Aurelio, FAPR, RDR, will present “Legal Terms, Part 1.” Aurelio has presented several language-related webinars recently, including “What Reporters Must Know about Punctuation” and “English Grammar Gremlins: Ways to Conquer Them” (now both available as e-seminars). Aurelio will present on more than a hundred and fifty terms, but he admits, “I really get a special kick out of four of them: alibi (in another place), durance vile (imprisonment), eleemosynary (charitable), and Esq.” He adds, “If I must pick one, then I guess it would be Esq., which is merely a title of courtesy, but attorneys think that it means ‘one who is an attorney.’” Aurelio will provide “economical but cogent explanations” for the words that he hopes each attendee will easily remember.

Finally, on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. ET, Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, will present “Promoting the Profession.” Uviedo is an official in San Antonio, Texas, and she serves as co-chairperson for the Texas Court Reporters Association Student Recruitment Task Force. Her efforts in recruiting and mentoring court reporting students have won her the NCSA challenge not just once, but twice in a row; in 2015, she organized participation in 13 career fairs in 15 days in San Antonio. “It is so easy and rewarding volunteering for a recruitment event,” says Uviedo. “You have the potential to reach hundreds, even if you only talk to 50.” Uviedo has also found the value in promoting the profession over social media, and she hints that “one cool thing I’ll talk about is having attendees take selfies of themselves in front of their court reporting machines and having them spread posts about court reporting.”

Members who attend the webinars will be able to ask questions directly to the presenter and get them answered right away. But if you are not able to attend the live webinar, they will be available as on-demand e-seminars after the fact. Keep an eye on NCRA’s e-seminar library for these and other topics to help grow as a professional.

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.

Q&A: Checking in with Joe Aurelio

Santo “Joe” Aurelio, FAPR, RDR (Ret.), has always had an attraction to the English language, first as a court reporter and later as a professor of English. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University, and a doctorate in education from Boston University. After he retired from reporting because of a hearing loss, he became a visiting professor at colleges in the Boston area. He teaches a variety of subjects, but mainly English grammar and medicolegal terminology. He will be teaching two live webinars, What Reporters Must Know about Punctuation on July 12, 6-7:30 p.m. ET and The Strange Backgrounds of Familiar Words, Part 1 on Aug. 1, 6-7:30 p.m. ET. The JCR caught up with him to find out a little more about his background and the reason behind his interest in this topic.

Tell us a little about your career.

I started night school at the Boston Stenotype Institute, and on the first night I met a girl, Josephine, who later became my wife. In 1975, she started freelance reporting — and she’s still at it!

I ranged all over Massachusetts during my career. During my 39 years, I had a wealth of experiences. I took some important cases (my first murder case was my first case in Korea!). I met some dynamic attorneys while working at the state labor department. My job at the federal agency was to travel around New England taking the testimony from disabled applicants for Social Security aid (some of that was sad). My first case in Superior Court was a criminal case (I was to take many of those). Other than some horrendous murder cases, possibly the two most important cases that I took in Superior Court: one involved the New England Patriots football team and the other, of course, was the Boston Strangler. In a sentence, I’ve had an interesting reporting career with fine memories and opportunities to meet and/or report important persons.

When did you become an NCRA member?

I became an NCRA member, I believe, in 1957. I did so because I believe in unity. When reporters gather together and unite, they have strength and can chart their future course or at least help to chart that course. When reporters join, their dues help to pay for professional advice and lobbying efforts. It’s patently unfair for unregistered reporters to have the benefit of all of the strides that their fellow registered reporters have worked hard for. I am solidly aligned with local, regional, and national unions!

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Photo by jwyg

What started your interest in learning more about language than just what you needed for court reporting?

Even as a little kid of 10 or so, I would fool around with language (I’ll be back in a flash with some cash in my sash). Later I remember saying such things as “She would feint a faint.” I was always very interested in homonyms (such as made/maid) and what I would call pseudohomonyms (accede/exceed). In short, I was interested in language many years before I started stenotype reporting. I remember when I was about 14, there was a manual typewriter at the train station where I used to sell newspapers, and I used to put in a quarter to unlock it so that I could type on it for 30 minutes.

If you remember your days from your master’s and doctorate, what did you find was the difference you brought to your studies as a court reporter?

I went back to school late. I was almost 50 when I started my serious studying. My bachelor’s was 1983, the master’s was 1985, and the doctorate was 1989. What I think I brought to my studies was a deep focus that I had to use as a reporter: listening very carefully to every word spoken. In other words, because I was so serious about listening to and capturing every single word in court, I think that that held me in great stead in listening to my professors.

Frankly, it was very difficult to earn three degrees at night while working full-time in a busy court. How’d I do it? By being very motivated because I saw the handwriting on the wall: my hearing loss was making my daily job hard to do. I only succeeded in performing a creditable job in court by having a lot of speed (I passed a 280) and knowing and liking a great deal of English. And that’s how I lasted until 1990. (I wanted to teach in college, and to do that, one needs a lot of degrees.)

You’ve given one seminar for NCRA members recently, and you’re planning another one. What do you hope court reporters and captioners learn from your sessions?

I’ve done one webinar, and soon I’ll do another. I know that a lot of people, including reporters, have great difficulty with English, especially homonyms and pseudohomonyms. Mistakes are being made daily, and the reporters who commit them are not even aware that they’re using the wrong word or spelling a word incorrectly or malpunctuating a sentence. Well, even though I haven’t touched a stenotype since 1990, I still consider myself a reporter, and I feel that it’s my duty to correct or to help correct those who make those types of errors — and I want to do that until I hang up my skates. What I hope reporters will learn from these webinars is that I’d like all of them to learn and use the correct word or punctuation always.

Is there some advice that you would like all reporters and captioners to take to heart?

My advice to all reporters and captioners is to have the highest respect and fealty to the art and profession of reporting. It is an honorable profession. Think of it: Reporters are responsible for taking and transcribing all of the words of everybody. What could be more important than that? I rest my case.

New webinar to help freelancers get organized

NCRA has announced that Rene White Moarefi, RPR, CRR, Houston, Texas, will lead a webinar on June 8 designed to help freelancers get better organized, especially when taking assignments from numerous agencies in any given year. A freelance realtime reporter for 31 years, including covering assignments for a multitude of agencies over the past seven years, White Moarefi will share her system to stay organized when she presents The Organized Freelancer: For the Busy, On-the-Go Freelance Reporter in Today’s Market.

The one-hour webinar, scheduled for June 8 from 7-8 p.m. ET, is available for a cost of $79. Attendees will earn 0.1 CEU.

New webinar tackles English grammar gremlins

NCRA’s Education Department has announced a new webinar titled English Grammar Gremlins: Ways to Conquer Them. Many speakers and writers will use the wrong word when they speak and write. This session offers a refresher course to help attendees correct these errors.

Led by Santo “Joe” Aurelio, Ed.D., FAPR, RDR, the webinar will embrace commonsense ways for attendees to learn and remember how to always speak and write using the correct word. The 90-minute seminar is on April 5 from 6-7:30 p.m. ET, at a cost of $99. Attendees can earn 0.15 CEU.

Aurelio was an official court reporter for 39 years. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University and a doctorate in education from Boston University, and he now is a visiting professor at colleges in the Boston, Mass., area. He teaches a variety of subjects but mainly English grammar and medicolegal terminology.

Aurelio has written extensively on English grammar, Black English, Judeo-Christian religion, sexist language, classical art, discrimination, word etymology, adult basic education, Jewish and Italian immigration, legal terms, and mnemonics.

Aurelio spends most of his time teaching, engaging in research, and writing. He has four sons and lives with his wife of 50 years in Arlington, Mass.

For more information or to register, visit NCRA’s webinar library.

New webinar addresses data backup solutions and practices

NCRA’s Education Department has announced a new webinar that will address the importance of securing confidential electronic documents and backing up data systems, and will provide best practices for protecting data.

According to presenter Daniel Bistany, a co-founder and chief technology officer of Breeze IT, a managed-services provider and value-added reseller based in Costa Mesa, Calif., organizations in all industries are now storing confidential electronic documents, capturing increasing amounts of data, and amassing video, social media, and resource-intensive files. As a result, secure backup and recovery systems have become a business imperative.

Bistany, who believes a service-centric approach to business and partnerships is key to success, will share how Breeze IT’s culture is built around a personal, value-based approach that supports clients by giving them the highest level of service and a superior customer experience.

The one-hour seminar is on Feb. 23 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. ET, at a cost of $79. Attendees can earn 0.1 CEU.

Bistany graduated from the University of Arizona magna cum laude and earned a degree in economics with an emphasis in mathematics.

Breeze IT is recognized by leading industry publications as one of the CRN Next-Gen 250, and has been ranked #5 on the CRN Fast Growth 150 for 2014 and The INC 5000 for 2016. The company also ranked on Orange County’s List of Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2015 and 2016.

For more information or to register, visit NCRA’s webinar library.

New webinars from NCRA in January

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Photo by Anonymous Account

Need continuing education credits (CEUs) or just looking for a good webinar? NCRA is offering three new webinars for members in January that address the importance of good communication, transitioning from court reporting to captioning, and sparking inner motivation.

On Jan. 18 from 7-8 p.m. ET, members can tune in to hear Lynette Eggers, CRI, CPE, and learn how good relationships are built on the foundation of effective communication through a webinar entitled “Communicate with Power and Influence.” Eggers, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of court reporting and coaching, holds two master’s degrees and has served on a number of NCRA committees. A past instructor for NCRA’s Total Immersion pilot program, she is a recognized Certified Professional Coach and owner of Life to Grow Coaching & Leadership. The cost of the webinar is $79 and earns 0.1 CEU. To learn more or to register, visit NCRA’s webinar page.

Next on the schedule is “Transitioning from Court Reporting to Captioning,” a 90-minute webinar on Jan. 24, from 6:30-8 p.m. ET, co-presented by Steve Clark, CRC, and Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC. The webinar is designed help answer common questions professionals have when making the transition from the courtroom to the world of freelance work or the broadcast and CART captioning arena. The cost of the webinar is $99 and is equal to 0.15 CEU. To learn more, or to register, visit NCRA’s webinar page.

On Jan. 26, from 7-8 p.m. ET, Eggers is back with a webinar called “Lighting Your Fire! — Sparking Your Inner Motivation and Potential,” designed to help participants understand how to become more effective and fulfilled as an individual and learn more about building a greater sense of purpose and more. The cost of the webinar is $79 and is equal to 0.1 CEU. To learn more or to register, visit NCRA’s webinar page.

State leaders learn tips for good governance

JCR publications share buttonThe second in a series of webinars being hosted by NCRA addressed the topics of association governance and what is required in terms of service by volunteer board members. The webinar, held Oct. 26, is part of a continuing series of sessions developed by NCRA to help improve and expand the skills and abilities of state leaders.

Issues discussed in the webinar included the importance of transparency in governing, effective organizational structure, the legal and fiduciary responsibilities of board members, and best practices for volunteer leaders. In addition, the webinar also provided tips on avoiding conflicts of interest and provided an overview of members’ responsibilities to the association.

“As a younger leader, I don’t have as much experience in the industry as most of my colleagues, so it’s nice to soak up as much knowledge as I can to be an effective leader for my state,” said Danielle Murray, RPR, an official court reporter from Olathe, Kan., who attended the recent webinar.

“We’re all experiencing similar problems, and it’s so helpful to be able to come together as a profession and bounce ideas and solutions off one another,” added Murray, who serves as secretary of the Kansas Court Reporters Association.

The first webinar, held in September, focused on leadership and provided a general overview of the traits of a good leader, tips to be successful in a leadership role, and more.

NCRA Kindle Fire winner announced

More prizes available for membership renewal

A record number of members have renewed their 2015 membership in October. These renewals were driven in part by a chance to win a Kindle Fire.

NCRA membership renewal Kindle Fire winner

The lucky winner is Michelle Wade of Huntington Beach, Calif. She has been a freelance reporter for 10 years after graduating from the South Coast College of Court Reporting. She keeps up her NCRA membership for several reasons: “Number one, of course, is it keeps me informed on all aspects of our industry: legislation, education, and technology. It’s great for resources. I have my E&O and equipment insurance through NCRA and just recently downloaded speed audio. Basically, NCRA makes my life a little easier. Thanks to everyone at the NCRA for all they do to support our industry.”

Renew before Dec. 1 and be entered to win

Members still have a chance to be rewarded for renewing before Dec. 1. NCRA will give away one Coach wristlet on Nov. 10, Nov. 17, Nov. 24, and Dec. 1. All members who have renewed before these dates will have their name entered into a drawing to win one of these four Coach wristlets.

NCRA membership cards

In an effort to embrace online technology, NCRA will only send electronic membership cards to members via email. Members can expect to receive their membership card within approximately two weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.

NCRA continues to work for its members

Online testing to begin in 2015 – In 2014, NCRA answered the call from members to provide more testing opportunities at a lower cost and on a more flexible schedule. By partnering with Realtime Learning Systems (myRealtimeCoach) and ProctorU, NCRA will begin offering members online testing for the RPR, RMR, CRR, CBC, and CCP skills tests in 2015.

Court Reporting Take Note: NCRA’s National Campaign – NCRA launched a national publicity campaign aimed at supporting the future of court reporting. Based on independently commissioned research by Ducker Worldwide, the Take Note campaign targets prospective court reporting students with five key messages: job security, earning potential, flexibility of schedule, the ability to help others, and the overwhelming need for 5,500 court reporters in the next five years.

More JCR content online – For the first-time ever, NCRA delivered nearly instantaneous information about the 2014 Annual Convention & Expo. News stories, session highlights, and photos were uploaded to TheJCR.com and complemented by NCRA’s social media outlets throughout the event.

New educational content at NCRA events – NCRA’s committees continue on the path of consistently improving the quality of educational sessions and networking opportunities offered at annual events such as NCRA’s TechCon, Firm Owners Executive Conference, Legal Video Conference, and Annual Convention & Expo. This has resulted in a steady rise in member satisfaction.

Increased online education opportunities – NCRA has expanded its first-class educational programming via webinars and e-seminars vetted to ensure they meet the needs of the marketplace. New online webinars and e-seminars were added each month for members to purchase, view, and earn CEUs.

Lessons from NCRA’s 2013 Firm Owners Economic Benchmark Survey

NCRA’s 2013 Firm Owners Economic Benchmark Survey released in February as part of its Firm Owners Executive Conference, paints an overall picture that court reporting firms are continuing to grow. According to the survey, about 46 percent of firms responding reported growth, while 23 percent said their financial picture remained about the same. Only 16 percent reported a decline in revenue, and only 5 percent of those reported a substantial decline of more than 20 percent.

Learn more about the survey findings in an e-seminar hosted by NCRA CEO Jim Cudahy where he discusses the trends in today’s marketplace that can help members be better placed for the challenges and opportunities that present themselves in the future.  For more information about the e-seminar, visit NCRA’s catalog of online continuing education resources.

The complete survey will also available for purchase at the NCRA store (under the “Promoting Court Reporting” category) beginning Fri., April 25. The cost is $295.00.