TOA Storytellers – South Coast College Interview

TOA Storytellers is a down-to-earth, behind-the-scenes look at some of the most interesting people throughout the legal, business, and public life arenas and beyond. This podcast features interviews with some of the top risk management, legal, business, political, and creative minds anywhere.

Hosted by Todd Olivas, Storytellers offers a rare sneak peek into the lives of these thought leaders. What is the story behind the person? What is their inspiration? What obstacles have they overcome? What is on the horizon? TOA Storytellers’ mission is to find out the story behind the person. And in the process, listeners will be inspired and find actionable take-aways in what they hear. Todd Olivas is a court reporter and business owner who lives in Southern California.

TOA Storytellers recently interviewed our President of South Coast College, Jean Gonzalez, and our Supervisor of Admissions, Christine Mantyla.

Todd Olivas is an alumnus of South Coast College and has stayed connected to the campus and with Jean Gonzalez over the years. At a recent TOA event that Todd hosted, the two of them reconnected and decided to do this podcast episode.

In this interview, Tod spoke with Jean and Christine about how things have evolved for the school, how it has been affected by COVID-19, and how they have adjusted.

“When this crisis began, a lot of our team genuinely feared not just for their livelihood, but for their lives. I knew in my role I have close to fifty people who rely on me for their living,” explains Jean.

You can listen to the podcast episode here:

You can also read highlights of the podcast episode below. 

The Early Days of South Coast

Back in 1993 when Todd was a student, the school was not in its current location but was in Westminster in a borrowed school building.

Jean had originally been a college instructor and an author of textbooks. Her success as an author opened doors, and she had the opportunity to work with a court reporter/programmer who was on the cutting edge of court reporting technology at the time and two authors of a theory textbook. Her involvement in that project led to a partnership in a new court reporting technology venture that ultimately led to her becoming a co-owner of South Coast College.

Under Jean’s leadership, the school grew, and it assembled a team of amazingly talented teachers and administrative staff. Many of the same people on the original team are still with the school.  South Coast College alumni are proud of their alma mater and many, like Todd, continue to look for ways to support the school in general and students in particular.  

Alumni such as Todd have also gone on to distinguish themselves in many ways, as captioners, Congressional court reporters, agency owners, court or deposition reporters, paralegals, and medical assistants.  Many court reporting alumni, like Todd, have some of the most successful deposition agencies in the country.

Going Remote Within One Week

When California Governor Newsom decided to close all non-essential businesses, South Coast College faced a huge challenge. We decided to push forward the spring break period which allowed the students to stay home and the team to meet to create a plan for going remote.

Luckily our team had access to Microsoft 365, and the Microsoft Teams software, so the biggest task was convincing everyone that we could go online and teaching each department head how to use the software. By the end of that week, we took the big leap to begin running online classes the following Monday.

All the students who had previously been in-person attendees were now all logging into remote classrooms and receiving the same level of education virtually. Each student was incredibly supportive of the change, and many sent thank you gifts to the college staff as a thank you for all their efforts to continue teaching.

Overcoming Challenges with Accreditation

While the COVID-19 crisis was a huge challenge, it is not the first that South Coast College has faced over the years. Because of the stringent course requirements to become a court reporter (they are allowed less than 50 total errors for ten minutes of reporting),the completion rate of is lower than other traditional nonskill-based courses.

This lower rate makes it more difficult for the court reporting colleges to receive accreditation, and for many years South Coast College has had to manage this challenge. Jean and the team have also offered Paralegal and Medical Assistant training, which offset the initial difficulty of receiving accreditation for the college.

Moving Towards a Virtual College

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has forced quick changes, it may also have a silver lining. The opportunity to expand the Court Reporter training to a larger group of students is now possible.

South Coast College has preliminary approval as an online college and will also seek to get further online accreditation and look at hybrid virtual programs in the future.

Staying the Course by Getting It Done

When asked about how she overcomes so many problems and manages to continue, Jean reflects on her father’s words, “I don’t care what you do, just do.”

“I just don’t think about it, I do it. I have a little book, and every morning, I write ‘Do__’ on the top of my list of tasks and then an ‘ne’ afterwards to show that it’s ‘Done.’”

To listen to the full interview with Jean and Christine, you can visit the TOA Storytellers link here, or also find the episode on Spotify and Youtube.

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When you attend an accredited institution, you are attending a school that has undergone a rigorous process that evaluates educational quality. It’s not easy to become or remain an accredited institution. The rules and regulations are strict, precise and designed to protect students. Here are some of the benefits:

A reliable indicator of quality.

Approved program of study.

Qualified instructors.

Recognition by employers nationwide.

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