Mary Beth Klee
Author of Core Virtues
Mary Beth Klee has worn many different hats: historian, educator, and writer. “While remaining decidedly flawed myself,” she acknowledges with a smile, “I have pursued a life-long interest in human excellence. How do we mere mortals realize our highest aspirations, deepest strivings, and greatest potential? How can we achieve ‘excellence’ in our person and in our lives? The word virtue, after all, derives from the Greek root virtu, which means ‘excellence’.”
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Klee holds her Ed.M. from Boston University and a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Brandeis University. In 1991, after completing her doctorate and having taught history on the college level, Mary Beth founded Crossroads Academy, an independent day school in New Hampshire. This K-8 school was a product of the burgeoning education reform debate and had as its twin goals, academic and moral excellence. Crossroads utilizes the Core Knowledge™ and Core Virtues programs.
As Head of School from 1991 to 1996, Dr. Klee oversaw the implementation of the newly published Core Knowledge Sequence, a content-based academic curriculum of breadth and rigor. But she and faculty at Crossroads Academy were also seeking a character education initiative that moved beyond “values clarification” or “rights and responsibilities.” With a grant from the Challenge Foundation, Mary Beth authored, and worked with Crossroads faculty to implement, the literature-based Core Virtues program.
Core Virtues is now in its fifteenth year of publication. Mary Beth has published two revisions and updates to the program since its publication in 1996 (one in 2000 and one in 2003). She has offered workshops and professional development training in the program in Washington D.C., California, Colorado, and Massachusetts. She is currently updating the Core Virtues bibliography on this website.
In the last fifteen years, Dr. Klee has also worked energetically on the development of K-12 history programs, materials, and textbooks. With exceptionally fine colleagues at K12, Inc., she has co-edited three middle school world history textbooks. They are: The Human Odyssey, Prehistory Through the Middle Ages (Vol 1),The Human Odyssey, Our Modern World 1400-1914 (Vol 2),The Human Odyssey, From Modern Times to Our Contemporary Era (Vol 3) and one U.S. history text with distinguished historian Morton Keller and colleagues at K12:The American Odyssey A History of the United States.
Mary Beth has worked as a consultant in history education, character education, and professional development in those fields. Organizations she has worked for include: K12, Inc., Fordham Foundation, Core Knowledge Foundation, Link Institute, Pearson Education Development Group, School Works, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (as a Charter School Inspector and also in the development of history MCAS for grades 4 and 10).
She is currently writing a book for young adults about American civilians interned by the Japanese in Manila during World War II.
Patricia Farnsworth (1938 -2001)
President and Founder of The Link Institute,
Core Virtues first publisher.
Core Virtues has had many champions and supporters, but chief among them was Patricia Farnsworth, founder and president of The Link Institute. Patty was a tireless warrior in the education reform debate. She founded Link Institute in 1996 as a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting content and character in the classroom. Patty enthusiastically endorsed the Core Knowledge Sequence as a stellar, content-rich academic program, but she was passionate about Core Virtues as the best approach to character education. Link Institute became the publisher of Core Virtues in 2000 and published an expanded version in 2003. Link trademarked the name “Core Virtues,” and oversaw grant-writing to get the program into numerous schools.
At Patty’s impetus and urging, Link Institute also sponsored a summit of distinguished educators and academics to explore “the link” between content and character. This group met in Portsmouth, Rhode Island for three days in January of 2001, and issued a document known as “The Portsmouth Declaration.” It described the relationship between intellectual and moral virtue, and the catalytic quality of the former to reinforce the latter. It was a clarion call to new standards in education.
Patty was at the Atlas/Heritage Foundation conference in April 2001, presenting the Portsmouth Declaration, when back pain and subsequently diagnosed cancer claimed her energies. Nine months later the disease took her life, but not her spirit or her life’s work. Link Institute continued its work for four more years, phasing out its activity in 2005, but transferring the copyright and materials produced to Mary Beth Klee, who is charged with future publications. Patty Farnsworth used to say that people needed to be reminded what a good school looked like. Patty herself reminded us what a good person looked like. She was Core Virtues incarnate.