Amherst woman killed in fatal crash on Route 5 taught at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech
NORTHAMPTON — A longtime teacher at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech who died in a car accident Friday evening is being remembered for inspiring a generation of students at the school.
Janet Bloom, who made her home in Amherst, died in a head-on collision on Route 5 in Northampton.
According to Northampton police, Bloom, 60, of 21 Cowls Lane, Amherst, was killed after colliding with a vehicle driven by Meaghan M. Kwiecinski, 29, of 16 Clifford St., Apt. 4, Easthampton. The crash, which occurred around 5:30 p.m. a half-mile from the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, remains under investigation. No citations or charges have been issued, police said.
“It’s a very sad and devastating loss for the folks in the Clarke community,” said the school’s president, Bill Corwin.
Bloom taught at the school until 2009. She also served as a guidance counselor and coordinator for alumni.
“She was really a caring and talented teacher, touching the lives of the kids she worked with,” Corwin said.
One of her notable achievements was beginning the Poetry Cafe, which was an opportunity, held three times a year, for children to write poetry and then get up onstage to read their pieces aloud, he said. This fit perfectly with the school’s mission of helping children with hearing loss develop listening and speech skills using auditory and oral methods, Corwin said.
Bloom’s love of reading and writing rubbed off on her students.
Kathi Shea, a colleague at the school, said Bloom was a strong motivator, demonstrated by the fact that she could get even the most reluctant readers enthused about learning.
“She was dynamic and personable and cared deeply about all students she worked with,” Shea said.
Shea added that Bloom had a “very, very sweet and caring presence.”
“She was the ultimate team player, she loved to get things done collaboratively. She was great at motivating staff as well as students,” Shea said.
Outside of school, Shea said, Bloom loved to dance.
Bloom had been married to Frederick Bloom and raised two children, Jason and Alex, who both attended Amherst Regional High School.
Kevin Nolan, a former Clarke staff member whose wife, Linda, and three children all attended Clarke, knew Bloom as a teacher with high standards for each of her students.
“We were very shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic news about Janet’s passing and we really are overcome,” Nolan said.
Tributes to Bloom began pouring in on the Clarke School for the Deaf Alumni Council’s Facebook page, with some describing her as their favorite teacher.
As news of Bloom’s death spread, Nolan said he heard from both his children and other alumni how thankful they were she had been part of the school. “She helped them to prepare for higher learning, high schools or colleges,” Nolan said. “She will be sorely missed by many of her former students and we, the alumni, wish to say ‘thank you’ to Mrs. Bloom for just one more time.”
Bloom was traveling north on Mount Tom Road, also known as Route 5, when her vehicle crossed into the southbound lane and struck Kwiecinski’s vehicle head-on.
Both women, the lone occupants of their vehicles, were taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. Bloom was pronounced dead shortly after arriving, police said. Kwiecinski was treated and released from the hospital, police said.
A section of the road was closed for several hours while the Northampton police and fire departments tended to the scene.
The accident is being investigated by units of the Northampton Police Department as well as State Police detectives assigned to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.