May 15, 2021

DMACC staff promoting unique program at state fair

Newton campus offers court-reporter training

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DES MOINES — There’s a ton of things to see at the Iowa State Fair. Court reporter training programs are probably not on anyone’s list as one of the main sights.

However, several court-reporting industry representatives are taking advantage of their spot in the Varied Industries building at this year’s Iowa State Fair, promoting a program that is unique to Des Moines Area Community College’s Newton Campus.

An eight-quarter court reporter training program began at DMACC Newton last fall with eight students, and there are already 28 signed up to begin the program this fall. Newton Campus Advisor Tom Shively was helping man the booth Thursday, and spoke highly of others who are helping fill a void in an industry that desperately needs a newly trained workforce.

“We used to talk to high school teachers who teach shorthand, but that isn’t taught in schools anymore,” Shively said. “So now, we have to find other means to get kids’ attention.”

Shively said AIB College of Business had the state’s lone court reporter training program, but the program was dropped before the school closed in June 2014.

That makes the DMACC Newton program all the more important as a resource for newly trained employees in the field. Bobbie Jo Van Deusen is the secretary for the Iowa Court Reporters Association. She’s not a DMACC employee, but Shively said Van Deusen has helped coordinate the Newton Campus program, and she was typing out words on a screen — using court reporting equipment — as part of the DMACC booth at the state fair.

Linda Ogden was also at the booth Thursday. Ogden, a Davenport-area resident, refers to Van Deusen as a mentor, and said mock trials are one of the high school arenas where the court reporting industry attempts to gain interest in the field.

“They’re already talking about legal stuff, and learning courtroom vocabulary, so mock trials are a great venue for this subject,” Ogden said. Ogden said the first three quarters of the program are theory, but the last five are hands-on, developing speed.

“The keystrokes can be learned by anyone,” she said, “but only people with fast fingers will be able to make the 225-words-per-minute national standard. This is something where you need to have the hands to hit it out of the ball park, every time.”

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks@newtondailynews.com