Happy March,

My favorite season used to be Fall.  It always reminded me of Friday night football games in High School, good times with friends growing up in Northern VA, playing sports, starting school and getting closer to the holidays and my birthday in December.  As I have grown up I have found that I now prefer Spring to Fall.  The rebirth all around us and the opportunity to start anew really speaks to me and gets me excited about what the rest of the year will bring.  This is my first Spring in the Valley in over 18 years and I can’t wait to see it come alive over the course of this month.

March is an amazing time for a gardener as I have usually started all of my seeds way too early and I am trying to figure out what to do with all of these little plants while it’s still too cold to plant them outside.  I love walking through all of the local stores and considering the seeds and plants and determining what I want to grow this year.  I think about what we do every day in comparison to my love of gardening and see so many amazing parallels. When I think about growing our students I am always reminded of one of my best friend’s favorite quotes:

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce.”  -Thich Nhat Hanh

As we think about our JMU students, we can benefit from taking the view of a gardener.  We all want our students to succeed but we don’t have any influence over who they are as they arrive as first year students.  However, we do control how we advise, challenge, supervise, guide, and support them once they are here.  Every year, I plant seeds in the hope that they will produce amazing things and I work hard to make that hope a reality.  This is the same for our students.  We want each of them to become their best possible, amazing selves and we work toward that goal every day. 

Each department, individual, program, session, and conversation is dedicated to this goal and to the betterment of our students.  In this way, each of us is a gardener and we have the privilege of planting seeds and caring for the future, I for one can’t think of any more noble or important role to play in a community. Thank you all for being that gardener and caregiver to our students and to each other, every single day.

Welcome to Spring!  

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Dr. Tim Miller

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