The Path to Becoming a School
Hi. In the mid 1970s I carried my passion for court reporting and teaching into forming a little notereading school, training our firm's typists to read our paper stenographic notes to create transcripts so that we would be spared the hours of dictating our notes onto "stenorette" tapes. The typists loved the new challenge, and the raise in pay, since they naturally were paid more per page to type directly from steno notes.
Writing steno for notereaders was one of the pleasures of reporting in the '70s and '80s. Truly! We could leave little notes for them, like "That was Jones, not Bones ." Seriously, it was much more fun than the mind-numbing, monotonous dictation of our own notes.
When Valara Norton, a teacher at a court reporting school in Tampa, heard that I was teaching notereading classes in the evenings, she asked if I'd like to also teach court reporting, and that she would love to teach it. Thus, the GHK School of Notereading & Court Reporting was born in 1975! Val and I were serious about teaching and creating good court reporters. We designed a fair but tough admissions exam, and I taught academics, bringing in a nurse to teach the medical class. We applied for and received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and then approval from NCRA. We graduated over 85% of our students in two years. However, we did not have to worry about realtime writing in those days. We did advise our students to write something for everything, and to have in mind writing for a notereader in their future. Laptop computers didn't enter our realm until the early '90s. I sold the GHK School to the Princes of Alabama when I moved with then-husband Ed Varallo to Delaware.
Fast-forward to 2016. Schools were closing left and right. The Ducker Study came out with a forecast of 5,000 reporting jobs going vacant within five years - a vacuum which will require replacement of the court reporter with digital or voice-recognition methodologies - IF WE DON'T ACT NOW. Because I knew how to teach and how to run a school, and because I had the splendid luck to be married to a wonderful businessman, Michael Agostinelli, who believed in me, we formed a new school.
Methodologies are far different! There is the REALITY of realtime writing to all kinds of devices, to many internet platforms, and the expectation that we can do this realtime writing at high speeds. Wow. This was a new challenge. Thankfully, I had kept up with technology and the growth of the profession, and I had studied various steno theories through the years. Which one to choose for our students? Which online practice platform to use? Which accreditation body would fit the new model of an online school whose official aim was not to graduate anyone with an A.A . or A.S. degree but to have them pass the NCRA RPR or CRC exams? Even accreditation bodies themselves were being abolished by the feds.
Today, it is 2018, two years later, and we have 40 students in our school. We are small, we have low tuition, and we do not accept federal funds. One student who started with us is nearing graduation. Several transferred to us from other programs, and they are gaining ground. Others are needing the flexibility of a part-time program because of their busy lives. Just in January, Project Steno began interviewing and placing students in programs and providing tuition assistance. There exists a ground-swell of effort among us to fill the vacancies of a retiring workforce before our profession dives into serious trouble. Good steno writers STILL PROVIDE THE BEST REPORTING AND CAPTIONING over any other method.
We adhere to recommendations by NCRA's Council on Approved Student Education (CASE), and we take pride in teaching students. ALL of our teachers have the NCRA Certified Reporting Instructor certification, and years of teaching and reporting experience -- and they love teaching! Our goal is to graduate steno writers who can pass the NCRA RPR or CRC. They are going to take 2-3 years to do it, if they can put in the 10 hours a week of practice recommended. We're constantly looking at ways to decrease that time as well. We hope that we will be just in time to make an impact!
Gayl Hardeman, 4/18/2018