Newark New Jersey’s best kept secret is JFK High School, a public school dedicated to students with special education needs. Best Kept Secret focuses on members of teacher Janet Mino’s graduating class of 2012, their lives, and their futures.  Every parent wonders what the future holds for their kids on graduation from high school, and the question of what’s next is even more pressing at JFK High School.

Students stay at JKF High School until they are 21. After that they

fall off the cliff

with few options for them and their financially strapped families.

Janet Mino is determined to insure that her autistic students are prepared for what awaits them, teaching her students to conquer their fears and control “socially unacceptable“ behaviors. As graduation approaches, she visits various adult day care facilities and vocational centers hoping to find the right and rare placements for her students.  Options are few for these kids.

Our guests tonight, Director Samantha Buck, and Producer Danielle DiGiacomo, take us into the classroom, on field trips, on work projects, and into the homes of three students. After the death of his father, Robert moved in with his aunt, a recovering drug addict. Despite Ms. Mino’s efforts, his skills are gradually declining, and placement could be difficult for him. Class Valedictorian Eric lives with foster parents because his mother is too ill to care for him (he visits her on weekends). After graduation, Burger King agrees to hire to him, if he can get a job coach. Quaran lives with his parents who love and appreciate him and encourage his interest in movies and games. These students, despite their limitations, want to engage in the world but have few options.

With one out of fifty children diagnosed with autism/autism spectrum disorder, and many from lower income families, the need to find a solution for millions of  “aging out” students and their families is increasing.  The award-winning Best Kept Secret puts faces on the situation.