In Appreciation of Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

In Appreciation of Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

Phyllis Pottish-Lewis is a woman of many passions – Oaxacan carved wooden figures, storytelling, octopuses, her family, a well-turned phrase, traveling to parts unknown, artisan jewelry, dear friends, certain chocolate cookies…and of course, children. It is her unwavering dedication to Montessori education that has driven Phyllis’s many invaluable contributions to AMI/USA’s Consultation Committee over the past four decades. Phyllis recently retired from the Consultation Committee, though she continues to serve as a consultant for AMI/USA.

Phyllis was invited to join AMI/USA’s budding Consultation Committee by her mentor, Miss Margaret Stephenson, who founded the Washington Montessori Institute, AMI’s first training center in the US. Miss Stephenson had been leading the US consultation work on AMI’s behalf and with the growth of this initiative, she sought collaborators and advisors to assist her. Thus, the Consultation Committee was born. The Consultation Committee’s mission is “to convey and uphold authentic Montessori principles and practices in AMI schools in the United States.” It is an advisory committee to AMI/USA; its work involves selecting and training new consultants, overseeing aspects of the consultation process and assuring that AMI’s pedagogical standards are integral to the Recognition Program.

Phyllis has been a significant source of wisdom and insight for the committee throughout the years. At the beginning of her Montessori journey, she had the experience of teaching at the Primary level, before her long career as an Elementary teacher. Phyllis continued teaching after becoming an AMI Trainer – a rare and wonderful concurrence. She knew first-hand the challenges of leading a class – the challenges that teachers face when trying to implement Cosmic Education. Phyllis’s insights and deep knowledge about children informed her work on the Consultation Committee in training consultants, offering strategies and solutions for classroom practice and in supporting AMI standards.  

From the time Phyllis was enlisted as a founding member of the Consultation Committee, she has spent countless hours of volunteer work on behalf of its mission. She chaired the committee for many years, functioning as its diligent taskmaster who worked with her fellow members in pursuit of authentic Montessori. She often invoked Miss Stephenson’s notion of “Montessori’s Montessori!” Phyllis has been a model for hundreds of teachers and inspired many as she conducted a remarkable number of consultations.

The Consultation Committee is indebted to Phyllis for the cornerstone she laid as the foundation of our work. We will miss her incisive intelligence, clarity of expression, generosity of spirit and her collaborative expertise. Perhaps more, we will miss the twinkle in her eye, her dazzling smile and that infectious laugh!

With deep gratitude,

The Consultation Committee

Download the full tribute here – In Appreciation of Phyllis Pottish-Lewis