Best Kept Secret

Winner at the 2013 Peabody Awards.

At Newark, N.J's JFK High School, the staff answers the phone by saying "You've reached John F. Kennedy High School, Newark's best-kept secret." The film documents an inner-city public school's commendable work with students facing autism. It follows teacher Janet Mino and three of her students: Robert, Erik, and Quran, over the year and a half before graduation. Miro is faced with the challenge of finding them a place in the adult world through a job or a rare placement in a recreational center after they graduate. If they are unable to obtain either, they likely face "falling off the cliff", entailing institutionalization,  idly sitting at home, or homelessness. Unwilling to accept the limitations of what she and the school can do for the students after graduation, Mino investigates the programs available to her students beyond "the cliff".

"I saw so much quiet strength in the spirit of Janet Mino, her fellow teachers and the parents of these incredible young men," says producer Danielle DiGiacomo. "Samantha and I chose to tell a story about under-resourced people of color- arguably the most ignored population in the country- with dignity and without sensationalism. I believe we accomplished something more than a straightforward verite film- a subtle and layered story that manages to touch upon the delicate issues of race, class, and disability simply by telling the stories of these characters."