We all have secrets. Some of those secrets are good and others are bad. Then there are the type of secrets that should be shared by as many people as possible. I know of one that is worth sharing. It is a documentary film titled Best Kept Secret.
If you are not aware of this film, I want to share some of its content with you. What I have seen warrants telling anyone who is willing to spend 90 minutes of their time watching this film.
John F. Kennedy High School is located in Newark, NJ. There is a teacher on the staff named Janet Mino.
This African American educator works in the field as a Special Education Teacher. Her class enrollment is an group of autistic males who have reached their final year of school. These students can attend school until they are legal adults according to New Jersey law. Their needs are different than other children and they require a lot of support during the course of their day at JFK High School.
The fact that they are about to graduate and head out into the world is a concern that Janet Mino takes on during the course of the year. She goes out into the community to observe and question the type of programs and activity offerings that will be available for her students.
Film maker Samantha Burns takes viewers along to observe Mino's attempt to find suitable program placements in the community. The selection is limited for autistic adults even though 1 out of every 49 children in Newark are autistic.
If you are expecting to see the typical setting of a school that is run down and African American children who are in classrooms that reflect impoverished conditions, this film will definitely open your eyes to a different perspective.
John F. Kennedy High School is a warm and engaging learning environment. The staff is friendly and engaged. This is a school that is valued by the children, their families and the staff.
The title for this film comes from the phone greeting that is used by staff. "Hello, this is John F. Kennedy High School, the best kept secret in Newark".
Janet Mino's quest to make sure that her students are placed in the best programming situation is worth watching. You'll have the opportunity to see first hand what type of work this woman does in the classroom. You'll have the opportunity to learn about the individual strengths and challenges of her students. Their parents are featured in the film and this is an added plus in my opinion because in an era where Black parent participation in their child's educational success is not often discussed or viewed in a positive manner.
POV is currently featuring the film on the website. You can view it until October 7th. There are also additional resources that you can use if you are the parent of an autistic child or interested in learning more about how you support this type of educational work. You can link to the POV/PBS website here.
I salute Janet Mino for the work that she continues to do at JFK High School. It definitely is a secret worth sharing!