Arlie Seems Elementary School. That’s what Bend-La Pine Schools should name the new elementary school it will build just northwest of the Oregon Department of Transportation Region Four headquarters.
Seems, a lifelong Bend resident, was one of those extraordinary teachers students remember their entire lives, a man whose influence spread far beyond his own classroom walls.
He fits the school district’s narrow criteria for new school names.
Seems died in 2013 at the age of 62 after an extended illness. He was born in Bend and attended school in Bend. He played football at Bend High and in college. He taught in Bend-La Pine Schools for 30-plus years, at Buckingham and Kenwood elementary schools and, for most of his career, at Jewell Elementary.
While Seems may not have come up with a new theory about teaching, just about every day he was at school he excited the youngsters he shared space with. He ran a lunch hour football league that was open to all but first-graders at Jewell for years, daily, September through March. He was the quarterback all that time, and anyone who wanted to play could, just so long as they behaved in class and did their homework.
Seems embodied what’s best about any good teacher. Like Jack Ensworth — for whom Ensworth Elementary was named — students loved him. He taught them that working hard pays off, that trying something you might not be good at is worth it, and that kindness is a more effective tool than angry or hurtful words. He wasn’t perfect; no one is. But he gave the students of Jewell Elementary the best of himself for years.
Now it’s time for the district to give back by honoring a teacher whose impact on his students was huge. Naming its newest elementary school for Seems would honor a man who embodied what it takes to be a good and beloved teacher.