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President's Message

By Marilyn Morgan, TCRA President

          “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”  - John Wayne.  When I framed and hung this quote on my kitchen wall years ago when I got my horse, I never thought it would apply to court reporting.  I have had the need to look at this little sign many, many times over the past two years of my Board service.  

          When I was nominated as president-elect, I’ll admit that I was afraid.  I wasn’t in the “clique.”  I was afraid no one would listen to a thing I had to say.  Or, worse than that, what if what I had to say was the wrong thing and not good for all of us???  There were some battles that first year; but this year as president has been a calming-down year.  I have had the privilege of working with a wonderful group of people on the Board who have good ideas and a willingness to serve our profession.  I have been amazed at the hard work and time all of these people have committed to the Tennessee Court Reporters Association for absolutely no monetary reward.  The only reward received is the knowledge that we have done or tried to do the right thing and promoted and protected our association members.

          I was afraid when I became president that the association would completely fold up under my watch.  We were out of money.  In fact, we owed money.  We were all fighting.  But I am happy to say that we are on our way back up.  We have learned to cut a few corners, and our bank account is getting fatter.  I’m extremely proud to say that our membership drive was a success, and we have added new members. 

          We have also made a few changes to accommodate more people:

          Our convention is going to be a two-day event with the option of signing up for just one day.  Our convention committee chaired by Max has still managed in two days to cram in the most interesting and exciting seminars and speakers I could have imagined.  I am really looking forward to it.

          We have modified the rules in the Policies and Procedures regarding CEUs so that the CCR requirements will run concurrently with the LCR.  Now our members won’t have to wonder which one is three years and which one is two years.  They’re now going to be the same. Proof of LCR license renewal will be considered proof of having obtained the required 2.0 CEUs for CCR.  Also, the CCR committee has clarified that board and committee service CEUs will also be good for the LCR.  That’s an easy .3 (for Board service) or .2 (for committee service)!!!

          I had really hoped and planned to have president’s meetings in each of the three divisions of our state, but the timing and attendance just hasn’t worked out.  Hopefully, our incoming president will be able to carry that torch, and I will be there to help her.  We have so many reporters in Tennessee who aren’t members; and I sincerely believe if we can show them what TCRA has to offer, they will come on board.

          Our new Administrative/Website Director, Lynn Terrell, has been a pleasure to work with and has proven to be the correct choice for the job.  Anytime she sees an instance where the association can save money and still receive the same or better services, she is on it!  She is very quick to respond to anything that the Board or association members request, and I’m proud to have been the first president to work with Lynn. 

          I am looking forward to staying on as past-president and helping Deadra Ragsdale if she needs anything.  She has done an amazing job with our newsletter this year.  It had to be completely reworked and redone, and I was proud of each issue.  I’m sure she’s a little fearful at the prospect of becoming president, but I know she will do a great job.

          I’m grateful that Lise Matthews will be coming back as treasurer.  She is the “level head” of the group.  She always looks at everything from all sides, and we are very lucky to have her.  

          Sheryl Weatherford is coming back as one of the Western directors.  I could always, always count on Sheryl.  We were fortunate to have two face-to-face meetings in Brentwood this year, and she made the trek from Memphis to both of them. 

           Pam Billingsley and Donna Segars will be coming back as directors.  I have known them both for years, and we are lucky to have them on our Board. They’re working hard on fundraising to build up our association.

          We’re going to have some huge losses though: 

          Lori Wells has served faithfully as president-elect, president, and past president.  She has become our resident “bylaws and policies and procedures expert,” and she has always been there for me when I needed help as president. She knows and lives by the rules, and you can trust her.  We were both thrown into a less-than-ideal situation, and we have come through it as great friends.  

          Max Curry is going off the TCRA board but will be moving up to the NCRA board.  I’m glad I’ve gotten to know Max better this year.  He is one driven man!  I’m amazed at his energy and his success with his business.  He has put more time and effort into TCRA’s convention planning over the years than the Republicans ever thought of.  He will be missed.

          Peggy Giles will be going off the board.  I am really glad I got to know Peggy.  She’s serious about the profession, and her knowledge of the legislature and how it works is invaluable.  She’s a nature lover like me, and I will continue to enjoy her posts on FaceBook.

          I met Lynda Clark for the first time at convention last year.  I have never met a nicer person.  How she kept up with all of us talking at once to come up with readable and concise minutes is amazing.  (I’ll bet she thought she was in a deposition with a room full of lawyers at times.) 

          Stefani Simmons will be leaving the Board as one of the Western directors.  Every time I see Stefani, she is smiling and friendly; and I will miss her.  She has always done what she was called upon to do and has worked extremely hard on the convention committee as well. 

          Carolyn Bertram has been my friend forever.  She is a first-class court reporter and has served this association in more ways than I can think of.  A paragraph won’t do her justice.  This is her last year as middle director, and we will feel the loss. 

          One of the things I am most proud of is the fact that a lot of our new committee members this past year have mustered up the courage to step up and serve as Board members next year.  New people, new ideas, smart minds – we can use all of that that we can get.

          Being affiliated with this association has forced me to step out of my box; and in the process, I’ve met people and been places I had never considered.  Some of my closest friendships have come about as a result of being involved with this association.  As I write this, I have three hours until the plane leaves for the firm owners’ conference in Puerto Rico, and I’ll be on it.  I will be saddling up and riding a horse on the beach at San Juan.  You would never know that at one point in my life, I was afraid to get on one.  A little bit of fear and a whole lot of courage can get you anywhere!!!

          It’s been a good year.  Thank you for allowing me to serve.

          Marilyn Morgan, President



2015 Student Scholarship Essay Winner

Victoria Huntley, Essay Winner

Each year TCRA sponsors a scholarship for court reporting students.  Students may participate in the program by writing a short essay.  The student scholarships are awarded to deserving students each year at our Annual Convention.  This year we had some great essays submitted from several students.  It is so inspiring to read their essays and to hear the passion and enthusiasm in their words.  

Victoria Huntley is our 2015 recipient of the Tiffany Brosemer Student Scholarship Essay Contest.  Congratulations, Victoria!

Read Victoria's essay below.  

"Why I Want to Be a Court Reporter"

From the age of five years old, I have been a competition-oriented musician. When you decide you are going to play in competitions, you then begin the long hours of hard work, dedication, and attention to detail. After you feel you have almost pushed yourself too far, you realize that you’re ready. You realize that you’re finally ready to put your skills to the test and be the best musician that you can be. Court reporting is exactly the same.

Court reporting students get up every day with a drive to be meticulous, hard-working, and focused. We students realize that to be the best that we can be, we have to sit and criticize every stroke we make. We realize that there are theory principles we have to master, punctuation that we can’t miss, and speeds that we have to pass.   For some it’s just too much, for others it’s just enough.

It’s not just a job that I’m going to be doing in the future; it’s not just something that I’m going to school for; it’s a craft. I love the look on peoples’ faces when I tell them that I will soon be able to write at 225 words-per-minute. Their response: “Do people even talk that fast?” Oh, how I wish they could sit in on a speed building class. I love being able to show people that court reporting is so much more than a person sitting in the corner of a courtroom tapping away on a weird looking machine. I love being able to educate people on what really goes into this schooling and the profession itself.

And when it comes to what has made me want to become a court reporter the most, it has to be that steno is a lifelong puzzle. No one could have ever prepared me for what goes into learning a theory and then being able to build on that theory to create your own language. You spend so much time working on a good platform so that your mind can process the most basic steno ideas, and then you are left with freedom to create whatever you want to create. And in a profession with so many great people, everyone is always learning from each other and building off each other. The learning never ends, which means that no two reporters’ strokes are exactly the same. That’s what I love most about court reporting. 



TBCR vs. TCRA - What’s the Difference?

The Tennessee Court Reporters Association (TCRA) was founded in 1949.  Our association is a volunteer organization made up of an Executive Board and, also, comprises two Directors from each of the three divisions of our state.  

Per our current bylaws:

The members of this Association shall strive to establish and maintain a proper standard of proficiency in the profession of court reporting, to establish and maintain a proper standard of professional ethics, to promote friendly interaction and good feeling among the members of the Association, to promote enactment of just and equitable laws upon the subject of court reporting, to protect the public against the imposition of incompetent and unethical court reporters, and to promote by all proper and lawful means, and consistent with the public interest, the legitimate interests of professional court reporters in the State of Tennessee.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-9-604 established the Tennessee Board of Court Reporting (TBCR).  According to the TBCR website:  Beginning July 1, 2010, court reporters must be licensed to engage in court reporting in the state of Tennessee. This board will issue court reporter licenses, conduct disciplinary inquiries for ethical violations, ensure completion of continuing education requirements and maintain a registry of court reporters.

Your TCRA Board has always and will continue to bring our members the most current and up-to-date court reporting information and news available as we receive it.  As our members are aware, our avenues of communication are varied:  annual conventions, regional seminars, e-blasts, website, quarterly newsletters, Facebook page, and Twitter!  Our state association can boast and be proud that we are one of the few state associations in the country that is so technologically advanced.

The TBCR was established to prescribe the qualifications of court reporters and to issue licenses to persons who demonstrate their ability and fitness for the licenses.  If anyone has a question about licensure, continuing education guidelines, reporting guidelines, inactive status, or reporter complaints, your questions must be directed to the TBCR.






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