POV: Best Kept Secret (PBS)
The staff at Newark’s underfunded John F. Kennedy High School describes their school as the city’s “best kept secret,” and this documentary makes a compelling argument for why that’s the case. The school’s unexpectedly resourceful program for students with special needs provides a beacon of hope in a community ravaged by poverty and crime and with a disproportionately high autism rate. Frank, poignant, and never simplistic, the film immersed viewers in the world of teacher Janet Mino as she moved closer to her class of six young autistic males who were “aging out” of the program. When students turn 21, they can no longer attend JFK, and parents and teachers call this moment “falling of the cliff” because of the lack of continuing adult education programs. Mino took it upon herself to help bridge this gap in our country’s social services; she devoted herself to keeping her students from being abandoned into homelessness, idleness or institutionalization. For a revealing portrait of how America abandons some of its most vulnerable citizens, balanced by the story of a compassionate community in the midst of challenging circumstances, Best Kept Secret wins a Peabody Award.
Executive Producers: Scott Mosier, Daniella Kahane Levy, Mark Nordlicht, Simon Kilmurry. Co-Executive Producer: Cynthia Lopez. Producer: Danielle DiGiacomo. Director: Samantha Buck. Writer: Zeke Farrow, Samantha Buck, Francisco Bello. Director of Photography: Nara Garber. Editor: Francisco Bello.