The Jacobson Sinai Academy is a Liberal Reform Jewish Day School, in North Miami Beach, Florida. When the Academy was started over 18 years ago it was designed as a K-6 school. This was in keeping with the existing model for Reform day schools at the time and met the needs and desires of the early founders. The philosophy of the school addressed meeting the needs of the individual child as well as the fostering of Judaic values and traditions in an academically nurturing and experiential setting. Upon graduation, students moved from the Academy to a variety of public and private options, all of which served the needs of the families at the time. In recent years, due to numerous factors within the community, parents voiced concerns as to where their children would continue their education during the critical middle school years. As a result of these concerns, and through the efforts of a dedicated group of parents and lay leaders, the decision was made to add an upper school component to the existing elementary configuration. This study is a qualitative case study which chronicles the organizational change effort that was undertaken for this purpose to determine facilitating conditions and impediments leading to the change. The analysis serves to inform others wishing to advance such an undertaking.
Results of the study indicated that certain conditions are necessary for the successful implementation of any change effort. The culture of the organization must be acknowledged and is a primary factor to be considered when advancing change. Collaboration with those committed to the enterprise must occur, and this in turn can lead to an agreed upon philosophy which expresses the diversity of needs and values of all of those involved. Resistance, while expected from certain individuals within the organization, can be overcome through the efforts of key players who assume leadership positions that are transformational in nature. Additionally, the rationale for middle schools, and the need for this one in particular, are factors which led to the success of this initiative.