How’d You Get Here? Part One
By Monette Benoit
Copyright 2008 by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.
Each person is a story. As I tutor and coach court reporters and students, I am continually asked: “How’d you get through it? How’d you get here?” I sent four questions to leaders – freelance reporters, officials, CART providers, captioners: How were you attracted to court reporting? How did you pick your school? What work did you do? What are you doing now?
I continue to learn, affirming: silent people recording history – court reporters – are fascinating individuals. I firmly believe we are all court reporting students – always– as we expand skills and goals.
Below is the first part of the responses I received.
Diane Emery: My dad was a vice detective and appeared in court. I was a Spanish major at US, University of South Florida, trying to earn a living with a Spanish degree. My dad said you should be a court reporter; it is a good career for a woman. I listened to my dad, went to court with him, talked with the official, Betty Lauria. I figured for a two-year program, I couldn’t go wrong. I loved the idea of being able to work anywhere in the world. The school was in my town. I was typing for the official in federal court when I was at 225 (wpm, word per minute) tests. There was an emergency hearing; I was the only person at the courthouse. The judge told me I was ready to be a reporter according to him, so I started working. Meanwhile, the school went out of business.
I worked in London at Old Bailey criminal court. I worked for a Bradenton freelance firm mainly covering administrative hearings. Then one of the attorneys I worked with saw me crying at a bar on a Friday night and asked why I was crying. I told him I had just quit and didn’t know what I was going to do. He told me to open a firm. I had a manual typewriter and one client. I started my agency in 1982. Diane T. Emery, CMRS, FPR, Executive Reporting Service, St. Petersburg, Florida, Serving Florida with five offices
Jeanette Blalock: I worked as a legal secretary in Texas. An attorney talked to me about reporting; his wife was a court reporter. Soon, I was a student. While in school, I wanted to be an official in court. I rushed through school, as I was going broke quickly. I spent all day at school, then another four to five hours each night on my machine, working on speed.
In a need to finish school faster, I followed my mentor, Monette, to Dallas and had her administer the qualifying exams I needed for Texas state testing. (Monette Benoit one of my beloved teachers from the early days of court reporting school. Here I am, almost 20 years later, still following her across the world. You see, good teachers never go away, they just become close friends)
So I finished school. Too broke to hang around for the next certification exam, I moved to Massachusetts, which was then a state with no certification. I flew back to Texas to take my test.
After being certified, I worked for freelance agencies. I loved the flexibility freelance work affords and managed a Corpus Christi firm. I now own my court reporting business in Alaska.
For years, I lived in the Interior of Alaska, in Delta Junction. I would drive 100 miles to Fairbanks for depositions. During summer months, I welcomed the drive. During winter it would fall to 50 or 60 below zero. Depositions don’t cancel in the extreme cold. Often when you reached your deposition, there was not a place to plug in your vehicle. When this happens, you take breaks every couple of hours to head out and start your car; otherwise, your car will not start at the end of the day.
I now live in Kodiak. The weather is better, so people don’t plug in their vehicles. There’s not an abundance of work, so I help Alaska’s reporters. There are fewer than 20 reporters in the state. Reporters tend to be overworked; I also help with scoping and proofreading.
Opportunities for travel can be interesting. Sometimes reporters are flown to remote villages where they sleep in the school or someone’s cabin. In villages, you are treated to Alaskan delicacies, seal soup, black bear and eggs for breakfast.
Court reporting has opened many fields. As a wordsmith, there are opportunities for variance. I have reported depositions, court, conventions, public meetings and I have provided CART (communication access realtime translation). I’ve followed groups around outdoor construction sites 20 below zero, capturing every word and taking breaks to warm my fingers. I even took a job for a couple of years for the Army as a technical editor.
How’d I get here? Through hard work, determination. And I guess this is where I will stay. For all its wackiness, court reporting seems to be just right for me. Jeanette Blalock, Blue Lake Reporting, Kodiak, Alaska
Kathy Robson: When I was in high school, my dad was on jury duty and came home talking about the court reporter and how interesting that job must be. So I checked into it. The community college nearby had a one-year theory program, so I started there. Then I transferred to another community college with a full program: West Valley College, Saratoga, CA. I believed in using “free” education rather than paying for private schooling. And they do a great job there. I graduated with a great deal of hard work and stick-to-it-iveness. You have to eat, breathe and taste that certification in the final year or so.
I worked as a freelancer for 10 years, then founded Cheetah Systems with my husband, Gary Robson. We became involved in producing captioning software, and so now I’ve been captioning for 15 years.
I have captioned the Oklahoma City bombing, earthquakes, floods and 9/11. One day while I was captioning a game, one of my cows gave birth less than 50 feet from my office window.
CART has allowed privileges. Probably I had the most fun when Deanna Baker married Scott Smith. I realtimed their ceremony to the CompuServe reporters group before anyone realtimed on the Internet. I editorialized what was said, writing who was there, what they were wearing, what Deanna and Scott were wearing, how they were acting, etc. Kathy Robson, RPR, CRR, Red Lodge, Montana
CART provider, official reporter who requested (insisted upon) anonymity: Right out of high school, I answered a computer school advertisement. I met the sales rep at a motel and paid a $100 deposit. The ‘school’ was one room with a few computer manuals and no computer(s) in sight. I’d been duped. When my check came back, it was cashed at a liquor store.
I then enrolled in a school that had mortuary science. (The richest dude in the entire area was the undertaker.) On the first day, they showed us cadavers; half of us dropped and lost our deposits.
In court reporting school, teachers told us about a rich court reporter in a mansion with sweeping staircases and a pool house. The day I graduated from court reporting school, we moved towing a U-haul with my spouse, and children (in cloth diapers). We drove by that mansion of this rich court reporter we always heard about while we were in school. I drove out of my way to see that house. We discovered that house was in a typical government housing tract built after WW II. Reporters in other cities confirmed similar mansion stories they heard when they were court reporting students.
Monette: The last professional is a pillar in our court reporting history. Oh, I begged to have permission to share that story. Trust me, I did.
Each person has a unique story how we got here – how we became involved in the court reporting profession. Did you see the similarities? I never would have guessed. But they’re here. This court reporter is still learning, still loving it. And you? Next month I share more.
Monette, the Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: Monette@ARTCS.com and Monette@CRRbooks.com
Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal
Tutor, Motivational Management & Career Coach,
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test Prep for the Court Reporting and CART Captioning Industry
Realtime Court Reporter, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist
Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs: www.CRRbooks.com
Blog: Monette’s Musings, www.monettebenoit.com
* Educational/Career Advancement; Private Tutoring/Customized Coaching
Have you failed NCRA’s RPR, RMR, RDR, or a state court reporting exam?
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Did You Know: You can accelerate your career with private tutoring and career coaching? Court reporting veteran Monette Benoit can help you achieve your goals.
Tutoring and career coaching topics include:
• Motivational skills to keep you moving forward,
• Time-management skills,
• Process learning for more effective retention,
• Development of skills to author your book, your blog, and how to publish,
• Communication skills, daily interaction improvement skills, and much more.
Who comes to Monette for tutoring and career coaching?
• Professionals who want to achieve their goals, create new possibilities, advance their career, author their book, and to develop the dream within,
• Veteran and novice court reporters, CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) providers, and broadcast captioners brushing up on their skills for test-taking requirements,
• In-class students who feel they’re “stuck” and falling behind, or aren’t ready for the required tests,
• Students and veterans who struggle with focus, goal-setting, time-management or other life skills that might be interfering in their upward success,
• At-home students who want to ensure they’re on track for their exams and for their career goals,
• Veteran court reporters, CART Captioners expanding their career options in related fields,
• Students and veterans alike who find they’re struggling with key areas of daily practice,
• Students or veterans who have begun to question their career or whether they’re on the “right track” …
Check out: Reach Your Goals with Tutoring and Career Coaching
Monette Benoit, the Court Reporting Whisperer, can help you achieve at much high levels.
Where do you want to go? ** What have you ‘really’ wanted to do with your career, and ultimately, your life?
* No two are alike. Specific custom-designed guidance efficiently assists you!
About Monette Benoit:
As a 25+ year court reporter, CART Captioner, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.
Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART Captioners, students, and instructors.
She has also helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.
Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has greatly assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to privately reach the next level.
Monette’s Musings is a blog containing information for busy professionals, students, and individuals who are fearless and seek to create their success each day. Reach up. Bring it. Bring it. * Bring it today!