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Imperfect Wooden Hearts

Hugh's Imperfect Hearts

| Shane Dennehey

A while back, our Customer Care team got a call from Hugh Boger, the Principal of Scott Elementary School in Naperville, Illinois, with a special request. He wanted us to hand-select a batch of wooden hearts for him with lots of distress, marks, and imperfections.

He needed these tattered hearts to help him deliver an important message to his staff during "Institute Day." A day where his faculty meets for professional development and to prepare for their student's return to school.

During this year's training, Hugh led a session where he asked his team to take one of the imperfect hearts from a basket that was passed around the room and observe it for a moment. After everyone had a moment with their heart, the basket went around again, and they were asked to return it. 

Once the hearts were collected, Hugh set them aside and asked his staff to share what stood out most about them. What did they remember about the heart they chose? Almost everyone recalled imperfections, like "burnt" parts, holes, discolorization, rough portions, and other marks. 

After hearing their response, Hugh taught a session about the concepts of adverse childhood experiences. He told his staff that the problems children encounter shape how they learn, act, and ultimately who they are. The session ended with an introduction to a theme Scott School is embracing. To look at their students through the eyes of the parents. This means focusing on the whole child and their potential "story," looking past perceived "imperfections," and appreciating the uniqueness and beauty of every child they teach. 

After sharing the new theme, Hugh recirculated the basket, and everyone chose a heart again—this time to keep. In silence, everybody took a moment to "experience" their imperfect hearts much differently. And when Hugh asked them to share their thoughts a second time, their responses were much different. Now they saw the beauty in them. They appreciated their craftsmanship and wondered who made the hearts and what from. They seemed proud of each heart's imperfections, and they proudly compared them with each other.

Hugh says:

"If educators are not intentional and mindful about how we view students, then we will disproportionately focus on the "imperfections" and what we must "fix." The hearts from Dennehey Design will remind us that children don't have imperfections and don't need to be fixed, so to speak.

Instead, the hearts will remind us to slow down, appreciate the beauty and celebrate the uniqueness of each child. They will remind us of the story that goes well beyond what we can see. They will remind us to see the child through the eyes of the parent.

At Scott School, our vision is to positively influence the trajectory of every child, every day, with every interaction. The hearts you provided to us will certainly help us to do so. Thank you, Dennehey Design, for the beautiful "imperfect" hearts you shared with us. Each will make a difference in the lives of students and staff at Scott School."

What a great lesson, Hugh! We couldn't agree more! We love to use reclaimed wood because we believe in the beauty of imperfection, and in antique reclaimed wood, we find the beauty and character that only comes with age.

It's also a wonderful metaphor. Yesterday's challenges are what shaped us. The marks we carry—figurative and real—represent these painful moments. And that past pain is what made us who we are today. Every day we are being crafted into beautifully imperfect people. 

Thank you, Hugh, for letting us play a part in your team's training day! We're honored to have our work represent such an important message to your staff!


  • Posted by Sue Fuller on

    BEAUTIFUL story! Thank you for sharing it! Loved what Hugh did and how he used the hearts. As a paraprofessional in the public school system I totally understand this message. Nicely done Hugh!
    And am a BIG fan of Dennehey Design, you all are amazing. Keep doing what you are doing!

  • Posted by Gene Usher on

    This could not come at a better time to remind us where we came from and those who were in school or job that we may not of reached out to because of ??? and now we remember how someone, put a thought in the daily activities of our lives. There are many now reaching out to help neighbors and outers unknown, to us ,lost every thing but has the love of a man above, to help many ,each and every day. Bless all that helped in this loving ,caring,opporunity to bring our best to others. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Posted by webster behrens on

    A great story….we need more of this in the world today….THANKS for sharing !

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