Connecting the dots between learning
and employment.

Idaho PTECH Expands Coaching Initiative to Enhance Workforce Development Pathways for Rural Students

Innovative partnership with InsideTrack bridges the skills gap through personalized coaching for high school students


SANDPOINT, ID. (OCT. 20, 2016) — The Idaho PTECH Network announced today an expansion of their partnership with InsideTrack, the leading provider of student success coaching, to provide rural high school students statewide with personalized support and valuable professional and technical skills that will lead to employment in the state’s high-growth industries. From their mobile phones or other digital devices, students can message their coach, ask important questions and get immediate responses, and have access to informative videos or resources to explore promising career pathways aligned to their personal interests.

With 61% of jobs in Idaho requiring a technical or advanced degree by 2018, but only one-third of the state’s residents qualified to fill those positions, there is a growing disconnect between education and workforce needs. Launched in 2014 as an innovative pilot, the Idaho PTECH initiative aims to bridge this skills gap by providing rural high school students with educational opportunities and executive-style coaching to develop the critical skills that today’s employers seek.

Idaho PTECH leaders designed the program to meet the unique needs of Idaho students, many of whom live in rural areas. To reach those students, PTECH partnered with InsideTrack to provide remote coaching to students with the goal of building a robust talent pipeline to prepare students for entry into the state’s workforce. The new expansion greatly increases the number of students accessing professional coaching through one-to-one meetings, text messages, and email outreach, along with access to self-guided content through InsideTrack’s uCoach® web and mobile apps.

“Nationwide, with one in 10 students attending a school in a remote or fringe district, providing access to high-quality educational opportunities for these students is one of the most significant challenges we face today,” said Alan Millar, Founder and Executive Director of Idaho PTECH. “Using InsideTrack’s innovative remote coaching, we’re able to support students regardless of their geographic location. Building out Idaho’s talent pipeline not only meets the demands of Idaho’s workforce and enhances our state’s overall economic success, but it also ensures individual career success for our students.”

“When I started at PTECH, I was shown what a career in technology entailed, and I immediately realized this was something I loved and had a natural talent for,” said Jimmy Soderberg, a high school graduate from Sagle, Idaho, who credits the PTECH program for getting him to his current role as a Support Technician for Kochava, a mobile analytics company based in Sandpoint, Idaho. “Through PTECH, I was able to realize what I wanted to pursue and my PTECH coaches were able to show me the right path to get to where I wanted to go.”

Building on the initial partnership that began in 2014, Idaho PTECH leverages InsideTrack’s proven methodology, innovative technology, and professional coaching team to provide the program’s students with the support they need to choose a career pathway, complete their education, and secure well-paying employment in high-demand industries.

“Idaho PTECH’s unique approach to student success and career readiness offers an exceptional example of how evidence-based, technology-driven student support can amplify the impact of educational programs and improve a state’s workforce pipeline,” said Pete Wheelan, CEO of InsideTrack. “We’re excited to expand our partnership with Idaho PTECH to provide even more students with opportunities to explore promising career pathways and develop the skills needed to be successful in today’s workforce.”

For over 15 years, InsideTrack has provided high quality coaching to more than 1.3 million students at over 1,600 academic programs nationwide by combining professional coaching, technology, and data analytics to increase completion and career readiness.

About Idaho PTECH Network
Finding the right career and learning opportunities during and after high school is challenging. The Idaho PTECH Network, or Pathways To Early Career High School, connects Idaho’s youth to career exploration, virtual mentoring, guidance through technical training and dual credit coursework, access to industry professionals, and valuable employability skills that will propel students toward well-paying careers in high-demand, high-growth Idaho industries. The Idaho PTECH Network is a pilot program funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Its mission is to bridge the gap between education and industry by providing students with the credentials and skills needed to secure well-paying jobs in Idaho’s high growth industries while giving businesses access to a qualified pipeline of employees.

About InsideTrack
InsideTrack is passionate about student success. Since 2001, we have been dedicated to partnering with academic programs to create adaptive coaching solutions that generate measurable results. These solutions combine professional coaching, technology and data analytics to increase enrollment, completion, and career readiness. Our adaptive coaching methodology is based on the latest behavioral science research and knowledge gained from working with more than 1.3 million students and 1,600 programs. In combination with our uCoach® Platform, our approach optimizes student engagement and generates valuable insights on the student experience through predictive modeling, behavioral analysis and multichannel communication. Join us and the leading institutions, foundations and others working to bring the transformative power of education to all individuals. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack.


Two PTECH Students are 'Beating the Odds'
at White House Summit

July 21, 2015 - First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome 130 students—including two PTECH students—to the White House’s 2015 Beating the Odds Summit on Thursday, July 23.  As part of her Reach Higher initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome college-bound students from across the country to participate in the Summit. These students are being sponsored by 70 non-profit organizations, and represent a mix of urban, rural, foster, homeless, special needs, and under-represented youth who have overcome substantial obstacles to persist through high school and onto college. The event will focus on sharing tools and strategies students can use to successfully transition to college and the resources they will need to persist and complete the next level of their education. 

PTECH students Angus Meredith and  Jimmy Soderberg of Idaho Distance Education Academy (I-DEA) were chosen to attend the summit. Angus is in the Aerospace pathway and has already completed two post secondary Aerospace certificates while in high school. He will attend North Idaho College next year after receiving an NIC Foundation Scholarship.

Jimmy is in the Technology pathway and, after completing an unpaid internship with Bonner County's IT department, has been hired as an employee for the summer. He will also attend North Idaho College next year and has received two scholarships - the Tom and Irene Wilson Memorial Scholarship and the State of Idaho Opportunity Scholarship.

This day-long event will include a panel moderated by E! News host Terrence Jenkins, which will feature First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, musical artist Wale, and Manuel Contreras, a rising senior at Brown University and co-founder of 1vyG. Wale will also perform a concert for the students.
Additionally, students will participate in workshops and panels led by the U.S. Department of Education, Google’s Jaime Casap, and other leaders in K-12 and post-secondary education.

Get updates from the Summit on Twitter and follow the hashtag #ReachHigher.

PTECH Media Contact:
Gina Borud
208.473.9529 (cell)

Press Components / Additional info from the White House:
Open Press
The First Lady’s Panel – 11:00AM ET
Wale’s Performance – 2:45PM ET

Available via Livestream

Jaime Casap’s Panel - 9:45AM ET
The other breakout sessions will be closed press.
To attend the open press portions of the event, please RSVP with the name, position (Reporter, TV Camera, Photographer, etc.) media outlet, phone and email for each person planning to cover the event to or by phone at (202) 456-4079  by Tuesday, July 21, 2015, at 6:00 PM EST. Media receiving credentials to cover the remarks will receive a confirmation email of their RSVP.

Cultivating the Technology Talent of Tomorrow in Rural Idaho

Innovative Pilot Program for Idaho High School Students Demonstrates the Power of Coaching in Improving College and Career Readiness


Sandpoint, Idaho — May 21, 2015 — Sagle, an unincorporated community in northern Idaho with a population of roughly 6000 is best known for its hiking, mountain biking, hunting and fishing.  It’s also the home of Jimmy Soderberg, who recently graduated from the Idaho Distance Education Academy (I-DEA), an online public charter school serving K-12 students across the state.  Jimmy is one of several recent Idaho high school graduates who participated in an innovative pilot program known as the Idaho PTECH Network (“Pathways to Technology, Early College High School”) and he is well on his way to a rewarding technology career.

Idaho PTECH is a pilot program funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.  Its mission is to bridge the gap between education and industry.  It provides students with the credentials and skills needed to secure well-paying jobs in Idaho’s high growth industries while giving businesses access to a qualified pipeline of employees. Along with giving student hands-on experience in the fields of technology, aerospace/advanced manufacturing and healthcare, the PTECH program also provides students with a success coach to support them in clarifying their long term goals, successfully completing their studies and transitioning to their first job. 

The coaching, which is provided by InsideTrack, a leading student success organization, is also generating valuable insights for PTECH and the participating institutions.  According to Alan Millar, executive director of the Idaho PTECH Network, “the data coming from coach-student interactions is proving invaluable in our strategic decision making as we develop this pilot program. Through coaching and our partnerships with employers, we’re learning that students need to develop strong soft skills – like problem-solving and time management – in order to be career-ready.  Coaching is helping us understand students and the challenges they face so we can support them through the high school to college transitions, and ultimately prepare them for well-paying and fulfilling careers.”

Millar cites the following as a few examples of the types of insights the program is generating:

  • Many rural students simply aren’t aware of the educational and career options available to them.  They assume that a 4-year college degree is the only path to a good career and, when that commitment seems overwhelming, they resign themselves to a life of limited opportunity.
  • Students don’t understand when and how to ask for help, and often view seeking help as a sign of weakness.  Once they experience proactive, judgment-free support, they engage with it wholeheartedly.
  • Academics and financial aid are not students’ primary concerns.  When asked what support they value most, students say it is having someone to talk to about what’s going on in their life, someone who will keep them motivated and focused on their future and their career.

Hayley Kimble of InsideTrack manages the coaching program and coaches PTECH students.  She echoes the common challenges students face. “They need help identifying the habits that get them off course and replacing them with more productive habits,” Kimble notes. “They also need encouragement and support in taking ownership for their success and committing to long-term goals.” 

Kimble spends a good part of her time listening to students’ concerns and making sure they take full advantage of the support resources available through their schools and through the PTECH program. “It’s amazing to watch how self-motivated and effective these young people become once they feel heard and get a little guidance on where to turn to for help,” she says.

As for Jimmy Soderberg, this fall he will head to North Idaho College (NIC) to complete a degree in IT, paid for in part by earning the Tom and Irene Wilson Memorial Scholarship.  In the meantime, he’s been hired as a contractor by the Bonner County IT Department and plans to spend the summer at home with his family.

Jimmy credits the coaching program as a key factor in his success.  “Having a coach like Hayley has made the transition from high school to college exciting instead of stressful,” he says. “When I am overwhelmed with assignments and obligations it is really nice to have someone to talk to about it and figure things out. I cannot emphasize enough how much she helped me prepare for this next phase in my education.”

According to Bill Harp, Director of Bonner County’s Technology Department, Jimmy is already proving his value in the new job. “Jimmy is providing technical skills and the ability to learn and assume new complex tasks at a prodigious rate in order to help the team provide technology services to meet the County's mission of serving the public,” says Harp. “We appreciate all his hard work."

Niki Vandenhouten, another PTECH student is also heading to NIC after graduating from Clark Fork High School, a rural school that was recently in danger of being closed due to declining enrollment and budget shortfalls. “My academic experience has been a roller coaster ride at times,” says Niki. “But thanks to the support of my coach Hayley and the PTECH program, I’m on track.” 

Niki is headed for a career in Aerospace and was recently awarded the Providing Opportunities – Fulfilling Dreams Scholarship. “I've always enjoyed hands on projects like working on my dad's truck or my car,” she notes. “This is one of the reasons I joined the PTECH Aerospace program. I'm excited to graduate high school, finish my Composites certificate and get my Associates in Applied Science degree in Airframe."  

Asked if she has any advice for other rural students uncertain about their future direction, Niki says, "it's not where you came from, it's where you're going – don’t be afraid to follow your passion.”

PTECH began with eight schools and 90 students in the fall of 2014 and is adding another eight schools and 100 students this fall. To date, PTECH students have earned 415 college credits, successfully completing 94 percent of college credits attempted.  Many are already finding job shadow and internship placements through the more than twenty Idaho industry partners. As the program moves through the development and testing stage, the focus remains on building a quality model that meets student and employer needs.

About Idaho PTECH
The Idaho PTECH Network (“Pathways to Technology, Early College High School”) is a partnership between industry, high schools and community colleges that prepares students for careers in Idaho’s high growth industries, including aerospace/ advanced manufacturing, technology and healthcare.   Idaho’s high growth industries are in need of qualified employees.  PTECH puts students on a path that includes careful selection of high school courses, online college courses taken while in high school, community college degree and certificate programs, and on site internships.   The program produces qualified graduates ready to fill well-paying jobs that meet the needs of Idaho’s employers.  

About InsideTrack
Society thrives when students succeed. Since 2001, InsideTrack has used a proven combination of coaching, analytics, consulting and technology to unlock potential in 1 million+ students and 850+ academic programs.  We invite you to join the leading colleges, universities, foundations and others working with us to enhance the transformative power of higher education. Please visit us at and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack.


Idaho PTECH Network Commits to National Push to Increase College Opportunity, Completion

Rural state-focused model puts kids on path to post-secondary attainment,
high value job opportunities

Sandpoint, Idaho—December 11, 2014 —  The Idaho PTECH Network was invited last week to attend a White House College Opportunity Summit, among 300 of the most promising efforts recognized nationally to support more college opportunities for students. The December 4th Summit focused on building strong K-12 and community college partnerships, and other collaborative efforts designed to improve college persistence and completion, especially among lower income students.

“I was honored to represent Idaho at this Summit that offered insightful discussion among our county’s leading education, business and nonprofit leaders,” said Alan Millar, Idaho PTECH Network Executive Director.  “But, I was especially pleased that a new model from a rural state that puts kids on a path to post-secondary attainment and high value job opportunities was singled out as one of great promise.”

As part of its College Opportunity commitment, the Idaho PTECH Network is piloting a new project that focuses on building a skilled workforce to fill available jobs in Idaho’s high growth industries – aerospace/ advanced manufacturing, technology and healthcare.  According to the Idaho Department of Labor, by 2018 there will be roughly 1,500 available jobs in these industries, yet not enough skilled Idahoans to fill them.

 White House College Opportunity Day of Action - December 4, 2014

White House College Opportunity Day of Action - December 4, 2014

The Idaho PTECH Network bridges the gap between Idaho’s need for qualified graduates in these fields and students’ needs for a clear pathway to a well-paying job through a one to two-year certificate or degree.  The program provides students with guidance through key transitions, including selection of high school courses, online college courses taken while in high school, community college degree and certificate programs, and job shadows or internships. Idaho PTECH uses highly skilled coaches from InsideTrack to provide remote access to college and career counseling for students wherever they are in Idaho.   

Elements of the PTECH Network pathway were emphasized at the College Opportunity Summit, namely strong collaboration between high school and community college, community partnerships to support college readiness, and investments in high school counselors. Summit speakers and panel participants shared a common concern – lack of college opportunity and the need for a skilled workforce.  “Clearly, we have common challenges nationally,” noted Millar.  “Where we differ is in approach: Idaho is a decidedly rural state, and we have to be nimble and innovative to ensure student success and employer satisfaction, and arrive at a solution that can be replicated here and in other rural states across the country.”


About the Idaho PTECH Network

The Idaho PTECH Network is a pilot program funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.  Its mission is to bridge the gap between education and industry by providing students with the credentials and skills needed to secure well-paying jobs in Idaho’s high growth industries while giving businesses access to a qualified pipeline of employees.  PTECH began its beta year in August 2014 and now has 110 juniors and seniors from eight participating Idaho high schools.

Media Contact:
Gina Borud
(208) 473.9529