J-Hawk Foundations

J-Hawk Foundations was developed by Urbandale Community School Dsitrict, Iowa, in partnership with the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University, and IEE. “When we researched leadership development programs that could be implemented at Urbandale High School, we realized that most programs were simply preventative programs for drug and alcohol abuse and did not fully encapsulate the core values and tenets required to support a successful leadership program for students and coaches,” explains Dr. William Watson, Director of Activities and Community Education, Urbandale Community School District. “The four-year search became the catalyst for the development of the J-Hawk Foundations, with the two-fold intent behind developing an intentional culture rooted in excellence.”

 First, we wanted to provide our students in athletics with something more than an experience focused on winning and losing. We wanted to provide them with the skills to succeed beyond high school; we wanted to develop leaders of character. Second, we wanted to provide our athletic teams with a competitive advantage over our opponents. Our journey has led us down a path where we tackled issues related to integrity, stress, and communication, and our students developed skills and strategies to lead more effectively in the classroom, on the athletic field or court, the stage, and in life beyond the walls of high school. 

 We could not have reached the level of student engagement that we have today in J-Hawk Foundations without the guidance and leadership of the Institute for Excellence & Ethics. They have listened intently to our unique needs and our program was built to serve all of our students in athletics first and modified to include those in all activities after one year. In just over 18 months, we have seen a culture shift amongst our student leaders and those that participate in activities that has permeated our school in a positive way. 

Dr. William Watson

Director of Activities and Community Education, Urbandale Community School District