Home sweet home: Students find friends, family within four walls

Jaci Siegert

A safe haven. A refuge. A home.

The fact that the 6160 is just a standard classroom down a hallway on Blue Campus does not diminish the emotional attachment many students have to that location. For many of the students who have found themselves in the 6160 over the years, it has been a place to cry, a place to rejoice, a place to complain, and a place to  find a different sort of family. 

“Mrs. Dominy’s classroom was like a home within Bryan High,” 2012 graduate John Fuller said. “Many of us would go there before and after school, or during lunch to do work, catch up with others, and get sage advice. It was always a place that you could stop by at any time, with any problem, and get not only Mrs. Dominy’s advice, but everyone else’s who was also stopping by or hanging out, whether they were students or teachers. Students from all different social groups and with different interests all crossed paths in her classroom.”

Other students throughout the years echo the same sentiments and see the 6160 as a place they can be themselves and find comfort. 

“The 6160 was my safe place,” 2012 graduate Alyssa Lara said. “Dominy made it feel like a home. It was somewhere I could let my guard down and just slow down. It was more than a room; it was a place I could laugh, somewhere I could be vulnerable.”

Dominy’s presence in her classroom creates a comfortable environment in which students can thrive.

“The 6160 is special because of its 

unique atmosphere and culture that Doms has cultivated in her students,” current senior Thomas Ehrhardt said. “There is just something different about it.”

In later years, students have recognized how difficult it can be dealing with teenagers each day and how well Dominy handled all the drama. 

“Being a teenager is challenging for so many reasons,” 2013 graduate Emily Nash said, “but Dominy welcomes you exactly as you are.”

Students of the past and present agree that the atmosphere of the classroom allows them to build character.

“Mrs. Dominy fostered an environment that not only let us grow academically, but, perhaps more importantly, as people and into adults.” John said “The 6160 was a lot like the living room in sitcoms, or the coffee shop in Friends, but for Bryan High. We all did a lot of growing up and learning there while also having fun.”

The ambience of the room welcomes all students to help others and take advice for themselves. 

“The 6160 was always an open door and Dominy was always willing to lend an ear to listen or would advocate for her students.” 2013 graduate Taylor Mangold said. “Yes, 6160 is a cool room in general, but it would just be four walls without Mrs. Dominy”

Students of all backgrounds find Dominy’s teaching style to be unique and impacting.

“Dominy has this way about her that makes her good at getting through to people who need a teacher or person who believes in them,” 2013 graduate Andrea Mendes said “A lot of people haven’t had that, and a lot never will. Dominy noticed me at a time in high school that was really pivotal and I’m thankful she cared when she did. The impact it had on me has been foundational to who I am as an adult.”

One of Dominy’s most recognized and appreciated characteristics is her ability to treat each student as a unique individual, not just a number. 

“She asked us about our lives, gave us guidance, and always asked our input,” John said. “She gave us the latitude to chart our own course by picking article topics that we were interested in, or which related to our own experiences, and then helped us translate these into work products. She treated us like adults in that our opinions mattered, but understood where we needed help and guidance.” 

Along with aiding in academic growth, students recognize Dominy’s care outside of the classroom.

“The safety of 6160 extended beyond BHS,” Emily said. “Anytime I was in trouble past BHS school hours, Doms was one of the few adults in my life that I could call up and ask for help. She always showed up in the ways that she could. I am forever grateful for her and her classroom.”

The 6160 is seen as one of the most unique classrooms by both current and former students. 

“The classroom and the students who spend every day in it each year make the 6160 special, it’s like an alternate universe,” 2020 graduate Megan Keating said. “Any problem I’ve ever had, the solution was thought up in the 6160.”

Current students such as senior newspaper editor Abby Mendez identifies Dominy as a role model. 

“I have learned a lot about leading and still remaining laid back,” Abby said “This year I was editor, so I had to take charge in a few different things, which was hard because I am close friends with a lot of the people I am supposed to be leading. I modeled my leadership style after hers and I try to keep a good balance between being friends and being a leader.”

Former students continue to appreciate Dominy’s advice even into their adult life. 

“One thing that I hold close to me is something she said to me once in her classroom. She said, ‘You know you’d make a really good counselor.’ At the time, I laughed because that seemed so out of my scope of interests,” Emily said. “At the time I was so sure I wanted to be a writer. Lo and behold, I am now a social worker working on my LCSW to be able to practice as a professional behavioral therapist. Doms always had a way of recognizing your strengths, and she saw that in me even before I did.”

Former students like Andrea reflect on their time in the 6160 and still think of it as a safe space within the school.

“Dominy makes the space what it is. She is the 6160. I will say the energy in the room is just different too, something about the people it attracts,” Andrea said. “I wouldn’t say we’re all outsiders or weirdos or anything, but I will say everyone comes with a unique experience, and I think it adds to what the 6160 is. It’s one of the most diverse and eclectic groups of people you will find, year after year, and I think that speaks volumes, so many different types of kids, personalities, opinions, but it just works, and that’s because of Dominy.”