Aunt Bette's passions included the mentor program and "the trenches"; i.e., classrooms wherein teachers would create, usually at their own expense, reusable values-themed classroom displays like to those modeled by her classroom and book. 

What an experience it must have been to have had Bette Pinkerton for a school teacher. As her nephew, from my childhood to early adulthood, I only knew her as the aunt with whom I was lucky enough to occasionally spend an entire day or weekend, including some very late nights, discussing what I would later formally identify as Self-Image and Reason. 

Over the 2004 Thanksgiving holiday, after ten years of estrangement due to a single philosophic disagreement, Aunt Bette and I agreed to disagree (as she originally suggested), forgave the lost years with a kiss and a hug, caught up over lunch, then resumed comparing notes as ardently as before. I was surprised by how quickly we cut to the chase.

The first I knew of CHARACTER EDUCATION ACROSS THE CURRICULUM was one month later, on the evening of Boxing Day, when she presented me with a copy of the culmination of her life's work. I cannot remember if her objective was to publish it formally, just make copies for the school district or Castle View, or what. But I do remember that she wanted it published and she wanted new teachers to have access to her work. Little did I know that, one month later, I would be culling through her book looking for material to use in my tribute to her at her funeral.

At the time of Aunt Bette's death, not only did the garage contain two four-drawer filing cabinets filled with what was left of the teacher support and classroom handout materials she had not given away when she retired; all carefully labeled, arranged by subject, and filed; but also a cupboard that contained a box labeled "Mentor, Character Ed. Book" (filled with the best of the filing cabinet materials and her book master), and a stack of thirty-one shrink-wrapped copies of the book itself.

The fact that Aunt Bette combined her personal agenda with her lesson plan is not unique. Such methods have been used throughout history

The fact that Aunt Bette covered nearly every inch of her classroom; furniture, walls, doors, ceiling, and the students themselves; with values-based instructional displays is not unique. Such methods have also been used throughout history.

The fact that Aunt Bette's values constituted a collection of some of the highest-minded philosophies from the whole of human existence is not unique. After all, is not the nature of humanity's advancement to compile the detection, and increase the breadth and depth, of cogent reason? 

However, if the notion that people are defined, not by their words, but by their actions is true, then perhaps we can say that what was unique was the fact that Bette established and maintained a profoundly high level of consistency between her unusually well-defined, if not fully examined, Honor Code and her actual Existence.

Add to that the fact that her classroom was not just a classroom, it was a superbly equipped art studio. Her renderings were human beings, and her method was to create a vacuum using the power of example into which those around her were compelled to grow. Ultimately, what made Bette Pinkerton unique was the fact that she made an art form out of augmenting the power of example, attempted to apply her example to both the individual and the common wheel for the individual and common good, and was, by all accounts, particularly successful.

Bette's classroom was, as is this book, her catalogue of most of her highest-prized values. Bette's classroom was, as is this book, her definition of her best character. And yet Bette's nature was, as is ours, undeniably human. Her values catalogue was not complete, and her best character was not wholly consistent; as dramatically evidenced by the fact that she was not wearing her seat belt when she needed it most. Nevertheless, this volume of expressed values and self-definition is undeniably and remarkably compelling. 

I have taken the liberty of adding to Aunt Bette's book two additional titles which constitute a Preface. I have also added the cross-reference links in the table of contents. Please let me know as you notice relationships I have missed. The rest of CHARACTER EDUCATION ACROSS THE CURRICULUM is as Aunt Bette presented it to me, and as are still sealed in thirty-one bundles in a cupboard in the garage.

After our astounding reunion, I cannot convey the disappointment I still feel from the loss of what should have been another twenty years-plus of Aunt Bette's company. Conversely, living with Uncle Dale this past year, and rendering to the internet Aunt Bette's book, a tribute to her character and her power of selection, has been an honor and a blessing. 

May we, this book's readers, recognize and share the value of Bette Pinkerton's vision.

May we, this world's travelers, keep our seatbelts fastened whenever our vehicle is in motion. (Sounds silly, doesn't it?)

Geoffrey O'Driscoll Gray-Lee
Friday, 2006 January 13