Karen Atherton


Karen Atherton is one of New England’s most respected high school music educators.  She began her teaching career at Green Mountain Union High School (Chester VT) where she taught band and chorus for four years. In 1987 she began her position as Director of Bands and Arts Department Chair at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield (MA) where she taught for 28 years, retiring in 2015. Under her direction, both the middle school concert band and the high school wind ensemble traveled to many festivals and received numerous awards.

Mrs. Atherton is the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Lowell Mason Award given by the National Association for Music Educators and the 2008 Harold Grinspoon Excellence in Teaching Award. She was awarded a Fulbright Teacher Exchange Placement in Lincolnshire England in 2006. She has served as Chairperson of the Massachusetts Music Educators Association Western District, All-State Concert Band manager, as well as Middle School and High School Jazz Band, Orchestra and Concert Band manager for her district. She hosted the junior Western District festival rehearsal weekend and served as secretary for the Quabbin Valley Music Educators for many years. She taught music appreciation at Springfield Technical Community College and was the conductor of the Smith College Wind Ensemble. Mrs. Atherton has been guest conductor for the Quabbin Valley Music Festival, Vermont District VI Junior and Senior High Concert Bands, Amherst Community Band and Orange Community Band. She served as the Tour Manager for the United States Youth Ensembles European Concert Tour from 1997 to 2009. She and her husband Tim performed throughout Australia with the Danbury Brass Band in August 2004. Gerry’s Music Shop recognized her commitment to teaching with their 2017 Wall of Fame Award.

She has served as Interim Director of the Westfield (MA) State University Wind Symphony and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Symphony Band. She is currently an Adjunct Faculty member at Westfield State University where she teaches Instrumental Music Education, History of American Protest Music and Jazz History and is also the Director of the Shelburne Falls Military Band. She plays trumpet with the Pioneer Valley Symphony, Clarion Brass Quintet, as well as numerous free-lance engagements throughout New England.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before they enter Deerfield, all new students are required to take a math placement test to determine an appropriate class. Students who have already taken a language they wish to continue studying at Deerfield will take a placement test to determine what level class they should take. If the placement in either department is deemed inappropriate after the student arrives, then the section teacher may suggest a change of level. Students may also request such a change and should consult with their teacher and their academic advisor before contacting the Dean of Studies.

Study abroad is available to all students from their sophomore to senior years, although typically students who choose to go abroad will do so during their junior year.

In order to garner Honors distinction a student must have a cumulative term average above 90.0%. High Honors requires an average of 93.0% or above. Exemplary students with a grade point average of 92.0 or higher may qualify for admission to the Cum Laude Society, a national honor society. 

Because of its commitment to rigorous academics, Deerfield offers a wide range of accelerated and Advanced Placement courses. All of Deerfield’s classes are appropriately challenging, but AP and accelerated courses provide an extra challenge for ambitious students.

All students are assigned a faculty advisor at the beginning of their time at Deerfield. After their first year students may choose a new advisor, or continue with their original one, depending on the relationships they have developed with Deerfield’s faculty. Advisors are responsible for submitting course requests and writing an advisor report every term. They are available for any questions a student may have and are involved in every major academic or athletic decision a student makes while at Deerfield. In addition, faculty eat lunch with their advisees every Thursday and may schedule outside events for their advisees. Advisors are a key component of the Deerfield experience, as they provide guidance and friendship to students throughout their time at Deerfield.

The Pursuit of Excellence Policy states that students may miss up to five class days a year if an unusual and extraordinary opportunity arises, including opportunities in a variety of academic, athletic, and artistic fields. The Academic Affairs Office determines the legitimacy of pursuit of excellence requests on a case-by-case basis.

Contact Academics

Fax 413-772-1128

Boyden Library
Mon–Fri, 8am–4pm

7 Boyden Lane, PO Box 87
Deerfield, MA 01342