Founding Principal | Quest Forward Charter School 

Cedar Rapids, IA


About the Organization

Opportunity Education is a charitable foundation with the mission of developing and supporting life-changing learning programs for young adults worldwide. Founded in 2005 by entrepreneur philanthropist Joe Ricketts, Opportunity Education has supported programs in 12 countries across primary and secondary grades, serving over 1 million students and over 5,000 teachers in 1,500 schools.

Leveraging its expertise in learning science, Opportunity Education developed Quest Forward Learning, a method, curriculum, professional learning resources, and classroom tools that promote student engagement and success through active learning and effective feedback. In 2017, we established two Quest Forward High Schools in California and Nebraska., founded on the principles of Quest Forward Learning. 

Leveraging these resources and learnings, Opportunity Education is about to embark on a new chapter of scale and impact, building a network of schools across the United States that offer students opportunities for both academic success and intentional planning for their post-secondary pathways, and which will serve as a model for schools nationwide. The first two charter schools to begin this national expansion, are approved and slated to open in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa in fall 2025.

About the Role

The Founding Principal role is a unique opportunity to design, launch and lead one of Opportunity Education’s first two charter schools. Reporting to the Chief of Schools, the Founding Principal will spend the 2024-25 school year co-designing a framework of excellence for their specific school and future Opportunity Education-managed schools. Simultaneous to the design work, the Founding Principal will be preparing their own 6-12 school for a successful launch in fall 2025 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

During the 2024-25 school year, the Founding Principal will spend a Residency Year responsible for an ambitious set of expectation that include:

  • Deeply learning the tools, curriculum, resources and learning science that Opportunity Education has developed in preparation for integrating these into the school
  • Codifying best practices from around the country, in collaboration with the other founding principal(s) and Chief of Schools, into a framework that helps define what makes up the core DNA of future Opportunity Education schools
  • Establish relationships and partnerships in the Cedar Rapids community that ensure both the successful launch of the school and unprecedented opportunity for students to gain community, career, and college access
  • Recruit and fully enroll the founding class of students
  • Recruit and hire the founding team of teachers and staff
  • Build the systems and structures that ensure excellence in onboarding, launch, and daily success of the school.

Ideal Traits

The ideal candidate has the following mindsets and traits:

  • An entrepreneurial spirit, including a bold vision for what’s possible and a history of persevering in the face of ambiguity and challenge to achieve goals
  • A high degree of integrity, including unquestionable reliability and follow-through on responsibilities
  • The deep belief, in mindset and practice, that every student who walks through your doors has the potential to succeed
  • Alignment to the belief that all students are college-capable but should be prepared for and deeply understand the various pathways available to them, choosing the one that maximizes their success, happiness, and is a smart financial decision
  • A deep passion for educational excellence and equity, particular in socioeconomically disadvantaged and historically underserved communities
  • Alignment with Opportunity Education’s approach to active and engaged learning, including a commitment to use the curriculum, tools, and resources within the school.

Ideal Qualifications

Among the qualifications, the ideal candidate has the following:

  • A history of measurable and significant achievement in K-12 education in and out of the classroom
  • Experience managing teams, including managing the managers of others, with a palpably positive and high-achieving culture
  • Experience building external partnerships with community organizations, corporations, and colleges to create opportunities for students
  • An ability, proven with experience, to create clear, consistent, and positive culture among students both in the expectations set for culture and the opportunities afforded to students within a school community
  • Well-established instructional leadership ability, including in teacher coaching, curriculum development, and developing communities of data-focused learning among staff
  • Proficiency in managing a school’s budget and leading operational systems (e.g. technology, scheduling, parent communication, school cleanliness, etc.) with successful attention to detail
  • 5+ years of experience as a K-12 school leader, ideally at the principal level
  • 10+ years of experience as an instructional leader in and out of the classroom
  • The founding principal must currently possess or have the ability to be a licensed administrator in the state of Iowa ahead of the school’s launch in summer/fall 2025

Compensation & Benefits

During the residency year, prior to the school’s launch, the expected base salary for this position is $120,000. The residency year includes access to Opportunity Education’s full suite of benefits including health, vision, and dental plans. 

The expected salary for the inaugural year of the school comprises a base salary of $125,000, complemented by the opportunity to receive two semester bonuses totaling up to $15,000 each. Bonuses will be based on successfully achieving to-be-established benchmarks and goals related to operational and academic excellence. 


Though the ideal candidate resides in or near Cedar Rapids, in the residency year, the Founding Principal does not yet need to have an established residency to be hired into this role. However, the Founding Principal must have the ability to establish residency in or near Cedar Rapids during the residency year. 

Application Process

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis with priority consideration given to candidates who apply before April 15, 2024. Please apply directly on LinkedIn or email James Troupis, Chief of Schools, at and include a resume.

Start Date

The expected full-time start date is August 1, 2024.

Equal Opportunity Employer

Opportunity Education is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local laws. We are committed to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace where all individuals are valued and respected.