Teacher Janet Mino and student Quran at graduation
Janet Mino is a special-ed teacher at JFK High School in Newark, NJ. In 2012,
her entire class of young men with autism graduated from the program because
they had all grown too old, 21, to attend. “Best
Kept Secret” is the story of Mino’s 18-month search for suitable programs or
jobs for her students after graduation.
The film follows, in particular, the stories of 3 students, all with different
ability levels. Mino recognizes the challenges that each faces and does her best
to arm the young men with the tools to communicate and care for themselves after
they leave the supportive environment of her classroom. In Newark more than 25%
of people live in poverty. Programs like hers are rare. After graduation, even
the students’ best choices are not ideal.
It is heartening to follow Mino’s visits to different adult day care centers and
work programs, but still difficult to watch, as it becomes obvious that the
students can lose what ground they have gained once they are out of daily
instruction and practice of the life skills they learn in her class. Still, the
film’s biggest accomplishment is the sharing of Mino’s and her students’
stories, holding this program and Mino herself up as a shining example of what
children with autism need to thrive and hopefully have fulfilling adult lives.
Watch “Best Kept Secret” on PBS tonight at 10:00 PM (visit
this page to plug in your zip code for time and channel) or streaming online
September 24 – October 7 on www.pbs.org/pov/bestkeptsecret.