Atherton Elementary School

Our kids weren’t eating right; they were hungry. Since we started having breakfast and healthier lunches, it improved the kids’ attitudes – they’re awake and alert and ready to learn.

- Tim Hanifan, Physical Education Teacher



District: Atherton Community School District
Location: Burton, Michigan
Enrollment: 400 students
Joined Healthy Schools Program: 2009


A decade ago, Physical Education Teacher Tim Hanifan used to drink two liters of soft drinks every day while driving to and from Atherton Elementary School. Although he was a lifelong athlete, he never thought much about the role diet played in health until he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Fast forward 11 years: Tim now prides himself on setting a healthy example by making water his drink of choice. His school has been thriving since, like Tim, it began making healthier changes by working with the Healthy Schools Program. Principal Susanne Carpenter has been a driving force behind the school’s success, supporting Tim in finding new ways to get kids moving more. Last year, he forfeited his planning period to ensure all of his students receive three 50-minute sessions of physical activity every week. Moving recess before lunch has prevented students from rushing through their healthy meals and has reduced plate waste. Once an unlikely wellness champion, today Tim’s smiles when he notices his students sporting water bottles like him in physical education class and knows his efforts are paying off. 

Learn more about how Atherton Elementary is making it easier for kids to make healthy choices.


Meet Tim

Tim Hanifan began coaching while still in high school has been teaching physical education for more than 20 years. He is following in the footsteps of his father and grandparents, who were also teachers.