The Guardian

College of Court Reporting est. 1984

December 2020

A year in review: Some of our favorite stories from 2020

Baby on board? No problem!

National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) member and College of Court Reporting (CCR) student, Paige Hanson, posted this recently in the Encouraging Court Reporting Students Facebook group, "When you have a newborn but are two 225 QA tests away from finishing CR school. Do what you have to do!" Hanson is a high speed online student who has just two tests left to graduate and lives in Cooperstown, North Dakota.

Paige's story, in her own words:

I worked as a paralegal for almost ten years. I have a bachelor's degree in paralegal and work in a law firm in private practice and then for the county state's attorney's office. After about seven years, I knew that was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my working years and began to think of what I could do. I had met my husband (we were just dating at the time), and he lived in a small town about an hour from the city where I lived. We knew that we wanted to live in the small town as opposed to the city. What I desired most in a career was more flexibility as far as working hours and the ability to be self-employed. I can honestly tell you the idea of becoming a court reporter just kind of fell into my head one day. The court reporter our law firm generally used owned her own agency and works for herself. She eventually became my mentor and my internship supervisor. Because I was already in the legal field and community, I knew that court reporters were in high demand in North Dakota and that there is a major shortage. I decided to take the leap. I began researching schools. Because of my location, I knew I would need to attend school online. The closest brick and mortar school is about five hours away in a neighboring state. I ultimately chose CCR because they offered a degree and a more structured program. I liked that we didn't just learn steno or work on speedbuilding but were actually prepared to be reporters upon leaving school.

Paige's perseverance and dedication to her studies is very commendable. Way to go, Paige!

A CCR student's mother made the news.


By: Stephanie Oldeck, NCRA CASE scholarship winner.

The position of court reporter serves an important purpose within the court system. Court reporters are under constant pressure to perform, they must be able to multitask and juggle strict deadlines, and they must have constant discipline. I possess many of the skills needed to be a great court reporter. I have dexterity in my fingers that allow me to type quickly, I have advanced development of executive functions, and I have an excellent concept of the English language and its grammar components (“Reporting for Duty”).

Throughout my formative years and into college, I played flute in band. The flute part includes the melody and difficult flourishes and trills that require excellent dexterity and perseverance. I had to practice for long periods of time, speedbuilding difficult sections until I mastered them. I have experienced a similar process while speedbuilding in stenography. Stenography requires constant repetition, speedbuilding, and difficult fingering combinations. My skill as a flute player has increased my ability to quickly learn, retain, and master stenography fingerings. Both flute and stenography require hands to operate independently of each other. Additionally, there is a positive correlation between music and executive functions (Hicks and Sepega). Playing an instrument engages every major part of the central nervous system, and it includes four of the five physical senses (Sapega). I have found that practicing stenography engages the same four senses, which leads me to believe that it may engage the same brain regions as playing an instrument. Since engaging the brain in this way positively affects memory and multitasking (Sapega, Hicks), I am convinced that my personal ability to work quickly, multitask, and maintain focus can be attributed to my skills as a musician, and they have translated directly to my skills as a stenographer.

Court reporting is as much about writing at high speeds as it is about producing a clean transcript. I know that I will excel at preparing transcripts. I have always had a strong grasp of English and grammar, and I obtained a bachelor’s degree in English from Central Michigan University in 2015. A comprehensive understanding of grammar, proofing transcripts, and an advanced vocabulary are important skills as a court reporter (“Speedbuilding Tips” and Houghton). My experiences have awarded me knowledge of the use of language and how to properly punctuate spoken dialogue and transcripts. I am often sought out to proof emails, essays, and orders at work. My background in English has provided me with a more advanced vocabulary, which helps decrease hesitation during dictation (“Speedbuilding Tips”). These skills will translate into transcripts that are grammatically correct with minimal mistakes.

Finally, being a court reporter requires a high level of professionalism. It means maintaining composure in the light of difficult-to-hear testimony, suspending personal judgments, and practicing confidentiality on the contents of cases (Houghton and “Essential Traits of a Good Court Reporter”). I will be able to stay neutral while taking down testimony. I would never allow myself to speculate as to the guilt of a defendant; it is not my job to judge, but rather to take down the record. I will be able to maintain client and case confidentiality by never discussing ongoing cases outside of the courtroom. I am punctual and never late. I am organized and will be prepared when I come into the courtroom. I would be systematic about tagging evidence, and I would be able to anticipate my judge’s needs and requests for case information.

In summary, I possess many of the key qualities in successful court reporters. My experience in band has given me great finger dexterity that aids in writing steno. This experience also aids in my advanced execution of executive functions. My background education in English lends great merit in my ability to produce grammatically correct transcripts. Finally, I possess excellent professional qualities required for court reporters to emulate. The accumulation and sum of these skills makes me confident that I will succeed as a great court reporter.

Works Cited

Hicks, George. “How Playing Music Affects The Developing Brain.” WBUR, 17 July 2014,

Houghton, Dawn. “Top 10 Skills of the Best Court Reporters.” OBrien & Bails, 16 Nov. 2016,

Sapega, Sally. “Playing an Instrument: Better for Your Brain than Just Listening – PR News.” Penn Medicine News, 30 Jan. 2017,

“Essential Traits of a Good Court Reporter.” How to Become a Court Reporter Stenographer, 16 June 2014,

“Reporting for Duty: Skills Court Reporters Need to Know.”, Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, Inc., 20 July 2018,

“Speedbuilding Tips.” Gregg Shorthand Pitman Shorthand Speedwriting Shorthand, 25 May 2009,

CCR Faculty member WINS NCRA Teacher of the Year!

College of Court Reporting is proud to announce that the 2020 Educator of the Year for NCRA is our very own, Melissa Lee, CRI. Congratulations, Melissa. We are so proud of you and your accomplishments.

Melissa brings years of court reporting work experience to her classes. She has a passion and love for the profession that she shares with her students. From 2017 to the present, Melissa has taught a variety of classes for College of Court Reporting. She is often her online I-office after her classroom hours where she tutors students with grammar/English issues, helps students with Case CATalyst problems, meets with students to keep them current with assignments and projects, and just for a pep talk. In addition, Melissa calls and speaks with students who are struggling with both technology issues and speedbuilding. She is devoted to helping all students with technology issues. All teachers look to Melissa for help and guidance.

Looking for funding?

Stenograph’s Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship now open!

Nominations are being solicited for Stenograph’s Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship. Students from NCRA-approved reporter education programs are encouraged to apply for the merit-based two-year award, which is worth up to $5,000 per year and will include use of a student writer and software. Full details here.


To be eligible to apply for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, students must meet the criteria below:

  • Attend an NCRA-approved court reporting program
  • Have completed an NCRA A to Z ® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program
  • Have received an NCRA A to Z ® Certificate of Completion
  • Have attained an exemplary academic record (3.5 GPA or above)
  • Have passed one skills test writing 80-120 words per minute at the time of submission


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