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Breaking Barriers with Physics: Embedded Coaching at Montgomery College for Engineering Students

Guest post by Montgomery College’s Achieving the Promise Academy

"It's a challenging course. Students have to think differently than they have before."

The Montgomery College Achieving the Promise Academy’s first newsletter is proud to feature embedded coaching specialist Dr. Raymond Fermo. With a background in physics and research, Dr. Fermo has over 5 years of experience teaching, but his passion these days is serving as a fulltime embedded coach, specializing in Physics and Engineering. Raymond primarily coaches in General Physics 1 and 2, helping students master the foundational, calculus-based physics courses required for engineering degrees. Due to the challenging nature of these courses, they're a prime target for Montgomery College’s embedded coaches to proactively offer academic support.

Academic coaches like Dr. Fermo aren't just available as extra help in these difficult courses; they truly "embed" within the courses in a variety of ways. Each semester, "host faculty" invite Dr. Fermo to classes where he introduces himself and explains the benefits of academic coaching. They partner to schedule strategic class visits and study sessions and support students at the earliest signs of academic distress. Each week, he sends students important reminders and encourages them to attend weekly study sessions or make coaching appointments; he’s even on the Blackboard roster, keeping up with the course assignments and deadlines.

Dr. Fermo notes how this collaboration with host faculty and the departments themselves creates better outcomes for students, whether he's presenting at department meetings or working with host faculty to ensure students see him as part of the classroom: “My sessions are directly adjacent to the section. As class ends, the students see me enter, and they may be more likely to stick around, especially if their friends are staying.”

Engineering major Erwin Tim shares just how vital this partnership to support Montgomery College student learning is: "After attending some study sessions, my approach to the subject as a whole changed. To put it into perspective, my first exam grade was 12.5/30. After attending numerous study sessions, my second exam grade was 22.5/30. It was a significant improvement for me and I have only gotten better and more comfortable with the subject. I will go as far as to say it is a must-have. A lot of my classmates go there too, just to clarify doubts, and it makes us all more comfortable with Physics as a whole.”

Montgomery College’s Achieving the Promise Academy is a partner of the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s College Success program, which provides strategic investments for local and national nonprofits, colleges, and high school networks seeking to implement or expand innovative infrastructure, programming, technology, or research. Learn more about Achieving the Promise Academy at


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