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School History & Open Pod Design

William E. Fanning Biography

A native of Norwalk, CA, William E. Fanning was born September 28, 1876, the son of immigrant pioneers who journeyed via covered wagon from Arkansas to California. He was one of seven children.

 His parents, seeking work to continue their journey, settled temporarily in Bishop, from where they eventually continued southward, finally settling on a 40-acre farm at the corner of what is now Artesia Boulevard and Carmenita Road.

He attended Norwalk schools, and in 1898, at the age of 22, joined an army of volunteers who served in the Spanish-American War. His service totaled about two years, taking his basic training in San Francisco and serving in the Philippine Islands.

After the Spanish-American War, he entered San Diego Normal School (teachers’ college). After two years, he transferred to Los Angeles Normal School in downtown Los Angeles. This was later to become UCLA.

Fanning’s teaching profession began in 1902. He taught at Bloomfield road and at Lewellyn School near Artesia. Due to having contracted malaria while serving in the Philippines, doctors advised him to discontinue teaching. The doctors felt that he needed to work outside.

For the ensuing eight years, Fanning worked as an electrician in the Southern California area. The temptation to return to a teaching position grew, and he acquired a position at the old Grover Cleveland Elementary School in Pasadena, where he taught two years.

In 1914, he submitted a letter to then Superintendent of Orange County Schools, Richard Mitchell, applying for a teaching job in Orange County. In time, he was hired as a principal-teacher of the Brea Elementary School, which had less than 100 students at the time. This was a two-story wooden building located on the southwest corner of what is now Brea Boulevard and Lambert Road. Fanning served as principal and finally superintendent of the growing Brea Elementary Schools until his retirement in 1942. During this time, the Brea Grammar School (now Brea Junior High) and Laurel Elementary School were constructed, and the wooden structure mentioned above was abandoned.

Mr. Fanning retired in 1942, but due to the employee shortage caused by World War II, he began to work at the post office. Mail distributor, sorter, dispatcher, and mail carrier were some of the phases of postal work he performed. Upon the end of the war, he left the post office to work as a part-time bookkeeper for the Virgil Kiger Decomposed Granite Company of Monterey Park.

During the years, Mr. Fanning filled many posts of community and civic responsibility. He was elder and Sunday School Superintendent in his church for many years and helped his wife write its history. He helped pioneer the Civil Service Commission of the City of Brea. He served as auditor of the Board of Retired Teachers of Orange County. When it was disbanded, he was commander of the Warwick Camp in Fullerton. This was an organization composed of Spanish-American War veterans. He was past president of the Brea Lions’ Club.

 “Lots of work, lots of rest and keep that mind and body active” was his successful for a long and happy retirement. Although his walking was impaired, Mr. Fanning enjoyed gardening almost every day.

Mr. Fanning’s wife, Stella, was also active in the community. Together they had a son, Karl, and two daughters, Inez and Katherine.

Founding Principal Leonard "Mac" MacKain

Leonard MacKain, who died Feb. 8, was involved in construction of three elementary school, Brea Olinda High and city's Civic Center


Published: Feb. 14, 2011 

BREA – A memorial service at 3 p.m. Feb. 20 will honor Leonard MacKain, a former Brea Olinda Unified School District assistant superintendant and Brea city councilman. MacKain died Feb. 8.

The service will be held in the Performing Arts Center at Brea Olinda High School.

MacKain served as assistant superintendant from 1967 to 1970 and then principal of Fanning Elementary School from 1970 to 1983.

While working for the district, MacKain helped oversee the construction of Fanning, Mariposa and Country Hills elementary schools and the new Brea Olinda High School.

He also started the district-wide BEST Track Meet, now in its 31st year.

After retiring, he served on the school board from 1988 to 1994.

MacKain served on the Brea City Council from 1972 to 1976, including one term as mayor.


Open Pod Design

Fanning Elementary is an open-pod school. There are many advantages to this unique setting, but perhaps our own Mrs. Ottestad states it best in this acrostic poem:

Opportunities abound for flexible grouping to meet students' needs.

People are aware of and support one another.

Energy and enthusiasm flow throughout our school!

New ideas are welcomed!

Students can see where they came from last year and/or where they are headed next year!

Professional sharing and collaboration abound!

Always learning from others' classroom environments and strategies.

Communication is easier without walls!

Every student develops a sense of being part of something bigger than his/her own class!