The History of Orange County’s Best Private School

When Tim Carroll planted a sapling of a Moreton Bay fig tree in 1872, little did he know that his rural homestead would one day become a premiere private school. The campus would not only impact Orange County but the entire world. As the vast farming and ranch settlements gradually transformed into budding suburban and industrial developments, families from around the country were drawn to the land of pleasant Mediterranean climate and new opportunities.

The Holt Family settled in Garden Grove in 1905. Kenneth W. Holt enlisted in the US Navy in World War II and received training to become a dental technician. After the war, he switched careers and became a public school teacher following his family’s line of educators. Working in Garden Grove and Anaheim schools, Mr. Holt placed great value in teaching phonics* as well as maintaining rigorous academics. In the early 1950s, public schools in Orange County dropped the phonics approach to teaching and increased class sizes to the point where Mr. Holt felt the children’s education had become diminished.

Ken & Helen Holt Fairmont Private Schools

From Teacher to School Founder

Discouraged with this change in public school education, Mr. Holt soon discovered that he was not alone. His students and their parents desired to continue learning through the phonics method. From his home, on Gilbert Street in Anaheim, he started a summer school class in June 1953 converting his garage into a classroom.

Parents became satisfied with the exceptional academic performance of their children and urged Mr. Holt to establish a private school. Utilizing his available resources and displaying unwavering commitment to see Orange County’s children become passionate about learning, he opened Fairmont Private Schools, the site known as the Historic Anaheim Campus on 1557 West Mable Street in 1955. His reputation for offering quality education grew to the point where he hired three additional teachers to provide instruction for 42 students—kindergarten to eighth grade. During the school’s early years, Mr. Holt not only taught students, he was an administrator, bus driver, janitor, coach, and builder.

Enriching Thousands of Lives

From this point on, Fairmont grew significantly over the next six decades enriching the lives of thousands of families and opening doors for students to attend top colleges and universities in the United States and around the world.

The determination and passion of Founder Mr. Kenneth W. Holt and Mrs. Helen Holt continue to drive Fairmont forward through the efforts of his family along with teachers, staff, and administration. In 1979, Mr. David Jackson (Mrs. Holt’s oldest son) became Fairmont’s President to continue expanding the school’s excellent reputation, which Mr. Holt started in 1953. Fairmont is proudly a family run private school with a distinctive family feel throughout the campuses.

Today, the Moreton Bay fig tree, planted more than 140 years ago, spans its majestic branches above the Fairmont Historic Anaheim Campus. For more than sixty years, students have thrived academically, physically, socially and personally under its shade. This same delivery of educational excellence is evident at the other three campuses, as well as Fairmont’s international programs in Asia.

* Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing. It develops students’ phonemic awareness—the ability to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes—in order to teach the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them.

Fairmont Timeline


Fairmont Private Schools begins as a summer school in the home of Kenneth and Helen Holt.


Fairmont moves to the Mable Campus (1st-8th), its first school campus (later to become the Historic Anaheim Campus).


Citron Campus (P-K) is established in historic downtown Anaheim.


David Jackson, son of Kenneth and Helen Holt, joins Fairmont Private Schools as Director.


The Yorba Linda Campus (P-8th) is established (later to become the Anaheim Hills Campus).


Mable Campus Junior High wins Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence from the U.S. Department of Education.


Fairmont Preparatory Academy, Fairmont’s first high school, is established.


Fairmont sweeps 1st place in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades in the Orange County Academic Pentathlon, establishing a tradition of Fairmont dominance.


Fairmont Edgewood Campus (P-8th) is established (later to become the North Tustin Campus).


For the first time, Fairmont enrolls 2,000 students.


Fairmont Preparatory Academy receives WASC accreditation.


The Anaheim Hills campus becomes a Reading Renaissance Master School.


Fairmont Education Group launches the Fairmont International Academy (7th-11th).


Fairmont wins four DSL Championships: Boys’ basketball, Co-ed soccer, Girls’ volleyball, and Girls’ basketball.


Fairmont 6th grader’s artwork is exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.


Fairmont Preparatory Academy Master Teacher wins Siemens Award for Advanced Placement.


Fairmont students earn two top country awards in the Johns Hopkins University “Center for Talented Youth” event.


Fairmont Preparatory Academy student receives coveted Gates Millennium Scholarship.



Fairmont celebrates its 60th year of delivering academic excellence to Orange County.


Fairmont is voted the Best Private School in Orange County by ParentingOC magazine.


Fairmont Junior High students win National Championship at the 2016 USAD National Academic Pentathlon.


Fairmont is voted the Best Private School in Orange County by ParentingOC magazine three years in a row.

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