How’d You Get Here? Part Two

“How’d You Get Here?”
By Monette Benoit

Copyright 2008 by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved

Last month I wrote that, as a tutor and court reporter, I am persistently asked, “How’d you get through it? How’d you get here?”

I e-mailed four questions to leaders: How were you attracted to court reporting? How did you pick your school? What work did you do? What are you doing now? Each has a grand story. We are always a court reporting student – always– expanding our skills, work and goals.

Gayl Hardeman: I was attracted to court reporting because I thought it would be a great summer job between academic years as a school teacher. I picked the only night class around (vo-tech). I graduated by way of Leo Zoffness, a tutor and former New York court reporting instructor. I studied weekends at his house; he made me study tapes, graded my notes. I became a freelancer in 1970. I worked 12 years, and then took off nine years to be a mom. I dabbled in acting and church work. Currently, I provide CART and captioning and have a remote, on-site CART business specializing in litigation realtime for professionals who call for help. I love this profession. It is perfect job for ex-English teacher who minored in business!
Gayl Hardeman, RDR, CCP, FAPR, Pinellas Park, Florida

Gayl’s husband, Michael J. Klutzow, A.S., C.L.V.S., is owner, principal videographer, Rockwater Technical Services, audio, video services, years of experience, professionalism in technology fields.

Lynne Marie Zakrzewski: I wanted to work in the sheriff’s department with my father. He said the department was no place for me and suggested court reporting. He’d seen the reporter in court. He thought it might be a good fit since I hit 95 wpm on a manual typewriter in 7th grade. I also played piano, flute. Selecting a college while not having a car, I looked at the business school because it was closest. Court reporting was on the list! Two years later I received my A.B.A. and began working as a freelance reporter. It was the end of the recession; wanting more work, I found myself at a second freelance firm two and a half years later. The second firm told me I wasn’t “cut out for reporting.” I sat for my certificate of merit that week and passed all four legs in one sitting. I was hired as an official, where I worked for eight years before re-entering the freelance arena. I wanted to be home for my kids; freelancing was on an obvious decline here due to contracting. Wanting to challenge myself, and in an effort to “move forward,” I entered the captioning arena. It is here where I found my true passion and can’t imagine doing anything else. It brings sheer pleasure!
Lynne Marie Zakrzewski, RMR, CRR, CBC, CPE, CSR, Willis, Michigan, President-Elect

Karen Finkelstein: I had gone to college to get a degree in speech therapy/audiology/communicative disorders. By the end of my second year, I wasn’t positive if that was what I wanted to do. I took a year off, traveled with a girlfriend, lived with my aunt and uncle, eventually ended back at mom and dad’s. Mom was the office manager for three orthopedic surgeons; she knew court reporters who reported surgeon’s depositions. Mom rushed home one day, “This is right up your alley! You’ve played piano since you were little, earned excellent grades in English, have good keyboarding skills.” Although I had no idea what reporters really did or what training entailed, I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and saw an ad in the paper for Madison Business College. I called, signed up for court reporting classes. I fell in love with the machine!

I graduated after two years with an Associate’s Degree. We had class five days per week. I worked in an office every afternoon. I practiced during the evenings and loved writing on the machine. I’d usually pull it out anytime I watched TV. I had an opportunity to be “official reporter” for mock trials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, UW-Madison. No magic powders, Monette – just hours on the machine!

My first job was for the State of Wisconsin Department of Hearings and Rules. I traveled the state with hearing examiners taking testimony at probation and parole revocation hearings. (Whoever thought I’d be hanging out in county jails and the segregation building of state prison? I dressed conservatively when I walked the cell block! One inmate was so dangerous that he and the hearing examiner were inside the cell while I sat outside bars to record testimony. Oh, hearings at the psychiatric hospital to determine if sex offenders were sufficiently rehabilitated were interesting.) After two years, I moved to Washington, D.C., accepting a freelance position. I loved freelance (except for nasty Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearings). One week I was in West Virginia doing black lung hearings, and the next week I’d be in Boston taking testimony of M.I.T. professors, then back to Washington for depos on cases involving the Smithsonian to the sinking of a Norwegian tanker ship. Never a dull moment.

Two years later, there was an opening at D.C. Superior Court, where I accepted an officialship. That was a social environment – mingling every day with judges, U.S. attorneys, public defenders, marshals, court clerks. We rotated from judge to judge each month, so I was exposed to civil matters, criminal felonies, misdemeanors, preliminary hearings, and family court in an extremely high-volume courthouse.

I then spent 22 years at the National Captioning Institute, first as staff captioner, then supervisor/trainer, and then as a manager. My last two years, I managed recruitment, screening, and hiring of live captioners. Now I’m Director of Education and School Development for NCRA, sharing my love of the profession. Working with students and schools was always one of my favorite things. Now I get to focus on it full time! I couldn’t be in a more perfect job. Karen Finkelstein, Director, Education and School Development, NCRA, Vienna, Virginia

CART Provider: Nothing remarkable. I graduated from Princeton, utterly without distinction, majoring in Germanic philology. I did not get into the military. (I was rejected due to a refractive error.) I stayed out of the Army draft (I passed over by one number in draft lottery). I had multiple jobs, including flying my father around in the family plane to French West Indies investment properties (we lived in St. Croix then; I happened to speak French), keeping books in a marina, operating a 10-ton IBM computer in an oil refinery, and teaching Latin.

Mom played the cello in a piano trio in which I occasionally participated. The violinist was the late Clayton Muise of New York, court reporter. He suggested I consider court reporter. He received a catalog from the (late) great McMahon College, the only school I ever heard of, so off I went. I then worked as a freelancer in the Boston area and was able to pursue musical interests as well. I’ve been doing educational and conference CART for well over a decade now, along with freelance legal work for twelve years. Not very fascinating. I hope this helps. Anonymity requested.

Monette Benoit: I ended my column last month: “Did you see similarities?
This court reporter is still learning, still loving it. And you?”
The similarities I saw then are here, too.

How’d we get here? Family and friends were the common referral. It was a parent or a friend who suggested court reporting. It was not recruitment or media campaigns – Many are not working for large salaries, sans shoes, from home. That’s how we got here.
We listened to a referral and sought details.

How’d we get through it? By tenaciously working to pursue our goals, passions. We often lived and breathed steno schooling, practicing and learning for two years.

The replies I received are from distinguished leaders who progressed through court reporting school, graduated – and then each excelled throughout multiple venues, embraced, accepted, technology, change. Someone we knew thought we might like this profession.

In Part One, last month, and Part Two, here, we’ve read about determination, hard work, family, music and language talents, love of the machine, and consistent work to improve skills after graduation.

We each arrived separately to now stand together.

Monette, the Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: and

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:
Blog: Monette’s Musings,

* Educational/Career Advancement; Private Tutoring/Customized Coaching

Have you failed NCRA’s RPR, RMR, RDR, or a state court reporting exam?

“Get ‘ER Done In Just One” – as evidenced by the many students and professionals who study Court Reporter Reference Books to pass their RPR, CSR, and RDR exams on the first test. Testimonials are listed online,

** Pedagogically sound covering a wealth of material with facts, tips, and comprehensive information.

The “Complete NCRA RPR, RDR, and CSR Test Prep Textbook, 6th Edition” has greatly expanded testing tips, testing focus, NCRA COPE Ethics specific details, grammar sections, plus — legal, Latin, court, English, grammar, vocabularly, medical, and computer chapters.

The “Test Prep Set” includes four volumes – each listed on

Monette will help you to pass your test and to exceed schooling and career goals.

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!

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