Award-winning UF documentary filmmaker shines a light on innovative inner-city teacher

GAINESVILLE, Fla. —Written, directed and produced by award-winning University of Florida documentary filmmaker Boaz Dvir, “Discovering Gloria” tells the story of Duval Elementary (Gainesville) teacher Gloria Jean Merriex’s transformation into a trailblazing innovator and a national model. 

“Discovering Gloria” screens Sept. 26 at 6:30 pm at Lincoln Middle School in Gainesville. The 90-minute program, which includes opening remarks by Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Dan Boyd and a post-screening panel discussion with UF professors and researchers, is free and open to the public.

“Gloria’s innovative approach of teaching her students using rhythm, rhyme and movement is legendary in the Duval Elementary School community,” Boyd said. “Through this documentary, people outside that community will also have an opportunity to learn about Gloria’s methods and her many contributions to education.”

An inspiring 40-minute documentary, “Discovering Gloria” shows Merriex engaging her math and reading students at the most effective levels through her numerous innovations, which included hip-hop and dance routines. In the film, UF professors and doctoral students who examined her methods describe how she broke vital new ground.

“She didn’t move to using music because she studied Howard Gardner’s work about multiple intelligences,” said Buffy Bondy, director of UF’s School of Teaching and Learning who researched Merriex’s methods. “She moved to using music and movement and the other strategies that she used because she studied her students.”

The also film shows how Merriex helped Duval leap from an F on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) in 2002 to an A the following year.

“This documentary reveals her desire to do so much as a math teacher at Duval Elementary School,” said retired educator Andrew R. Mickle. “Her unique gifts run deep in both her personality and her beliefs in a special method of teaching math. The result speaks for itself.”