Alum Perspective: The Children’s School Taught me to be My Authentic Self

Ross Hegtvedt graduated from The Children’s School in 2005. He currently works at The Carter Center and helped start The Purple Aisle, a bipartisan group whose mission is to disrupt hyperpartisanship and improve the quality of representation in government by training civic leaders who are in government, business and philanthropy. 


I graduated from The Children’s School as a sixth grader in 2005. In my graduation speech, I donned a Darth Vader mask and proudly declared I would be a TCS student forever. I think that I’ve really just become a greater version of the invariably weird kid TCS helped me discover I truly was. The Children’s School taught me to be my authentic self, treasure my community and dream of ways to improve this world.

After graduating in 2005, I went on to seventh grade at Paideia and then college at Brown University. I concentrated in international relations with a focus on the Middle East. Much credit should go to Paul’s sixth grade (now fifth grade) history class for introducing me to the history and culture of the Arab world. Without his patience, who knows where I’d be now. Somewhere colder, no doubt.

Degree in hand, I thought it was time to go solve all the problems of the world. Then I realized I had no idea what problems my own communities faced back home in Atlanta. I remembered all the projects and field trips we did at TCS around the civil rights movement and Atlanta history so I came back to Georgia and got involved in local politics.

I joined a slew of successful campaigns with awesome candidates, including that of State Representative Park Cannon of District 58, which includes TCS! Now, I work at the Carter Center in our Syria Project. We do conflict analysis and what’s called Track II diplomacy, where we bring influential Syrian actors and international experts together to close information gaps and generate new ideas around specific issues like decentralization and autonomy.

I’ve also helped start an organization called The Purple Aisle. We bring emerging civic leaders together across the country for events where teams learn innovation and rapid problem-solving techniques to produce solutions to pressing issues. In 2018, we’ve covered immigration, election integrity and voter participation, the future of transportation, economic justice, and more.

I couldn’t have done it without TCS. The school instilled in me the imperative of diversity and understanding history, which led me to international relations and politics. My love for theatre and martial arts started in the Discovery program. Anybody who knows me can tell you those are a huge part of who I am today. TCS taught me how to unleash my imagination. Most of all, TCS proved how beautiful and thriving our communities could be, and I think everyone deserves that. We have work to do to make that happen.