“An exemplary documentary. [Best Kept Secret] expands its storytelling to the boundaries of messy, joyful and painful reality.” Miriam Bale, The New York Times (Critics’ Pick)
“Engrossing and heartbreaking. . . Hugely inspiring! [Janet Mino] is one of the cinematic heroines of the year.” Ernest Hardy, L.A. Weekly/The Village Voice
JFK High School, located in the midst of a run-down area in Newark, New Jersey, is a public school for all types of students with special education needs, ranging from those on the autism spectrum to those with multiple disabilities. Janet Mino has taught her class of young men with autism for four years. When they all graduate in the spring of 2012, they will leave the security of the public school system forever. Best Kept Secret follows Ms. Mino and her students over the year and a half before graduation. The clock is ticking to find them a place in the adult world – a job or rare placement in a recreational center – so they do not end up where their predecessors have, sitting at home, institutionalized, or on the streets.
Erik is the class nerd — smart, talkative, and great at following directions. He is a joyful person with “two moms”; a biological mother who is too ill to care for him, and a dedicated and loving foster mother. It is clear that Erik is the student most ready to take on the real world.
Robert is the biggest mystery and heartbreak in the class. His father home schooled him until he passed away 4 years ago, and Robert is now cared for by his aunt, a recovering drug addict. His chaotic home life has posed a problem in the classroom, as he is absent half the time. He is a smart student who can read and spell but over the last year has been digressing in class.
Quran is the only student who has both of his parents raising him. He is a quiet soul who loves film. He is able to read and has control of all of his behaviors. Ms. Mino has high hopes Quran will find placement after school because of his good work ethic and parental support.