Across from Andrew Jackson High School on North Main Street sits a colorful building. On the inside, Dr. Cynthia Smith is getting prepared for the first day of school. 

"We are the first private STEM academy for kindergarten in this area," Dr. Cynthia Smith explained. 

In a neighborhood filled with crime and poverty, Minds of the Future Academy is one of a kind.  

"I want to see students in this neighborhood have access to resources and things I didn't have growing up as a child."

Dr. Smith graduated from Andrew Jackson and worked in the Duval County Public School System for 16 years in elementary and secondary education. She's the owner and director of the academy. 

"I believe that if students have proper resources, and things to keep them off the streets and into doing something positive, that will help reduce our crime rate in this area."

Her mission is to reach children at an early age. Students in pre-k and kindergarten can attend the academy for free. 

"As they grow and get older, they'll have the necessary tools in order to be successful in secondary education and beyond."

The kids who attend here will have access to piano and dance classes and state of the art technology. Microsoft is partnering with the school.

"What we aim to do is to have students actually have experience with coding."

On the outside, next to the swing set, students will have the opportunity to learn about gardening. They'll be able to grow their own food. It's Dr. Smith's goal to make sure each of her students is well-rounded and prepared for the future no matter the environment around them. 

"That was my motivation, because it is so dangerous, it gives kids somewhere positive to be and to go."

For more information, click here, or call 904-888-4041.