In the spring of 1954, postwar growth came to southern California. Subdivisions were sprouting up where citrus groves once dominated the landscape. Elementary schools were operating double sessions as the Baby Boomers reached school age.
Howell Webb was teaching Latin and serving as assistant headmaster at his father’s school, Webb School of California, located in the hills above Claremont. As admissions director, and also as the father of a young child, Howell was concerned about the elementary preparation that he was seeing in the applicants to Webb and the dearth of local alternatives to public school. A group of equally concerned parents came to Mr. Webb to solicit his help in finding families to join their effort.
Their challenges were locating land, buildings, and money. A parent at one of the early meetings announced that he was going to Kentucky in a few weeks, and that “when I come back, we’ll decide” about building a school. His horse, Determine, won the 1954 Kentucky Derby. A share of the winning purse plus contributions from other founding parents secured the notes for the loan and preparations began in earnest to found Foothill Country Day School on a plot of land at the corner of San Antonio (renamed Towne) and Harrison Avenues. Howell Webb served as founding head of school with the intention of returning to Webb after two years. He retired from Foothill 32 years later.
A commitment to maintaining sustainable levels of tuition while continuing to provide a strong liberal arts education—grounded in the greater concern for the moral development of children—led to a 2004 strategic initiative to increase the size of the student body. The largest capital campaign in the School’s history resulting in the addition of the Upper Village building was completed in 2010.
In 2020, Foothill successfully transitioned to a completely online program as the school faced the COVID pandemic. The School invested in additional staff and cutting edge technology training for teachers to ensure that every student received a quality education and family support during this time. To read more about Foothill's strategy and success during that time, and to hear parents talk about their experience, please click HERE. Foothill gradually returned to in-person learning, with all students fully on campus by fall 2022.
With the support of an active and dedicated Board of Trustees and a parent organization, Foothill has grown and prospered under the leadership of five heads of school. The School has enjoyed a reputation for preparing its students to excel academically and, more importantly, as persons of character and purpose.