We check Baxa off the interview list

Administrator values his family, honesty, creative takes on his last name and occasional craziness


Elisha Scott

Assistant principal Andy Baxa talks to junior Emmett McCormick in the main hallway where he supervises during passing period Monday morning. “What I would encourage [students] to do is do whatever you want to do, do whatever you feel passionate about, “ he said. “Good things will happen if you follow your passion.” Photo by Elisha Scott.

Elisha Scott, people editor

The Proust Questionnaire, named after French writer Marcel Proust, is a series of 35 questions meant to gauge the personality and values of the answerer. Elisha Scott caught up with assistant principal Andy Baxa, the latest Maculty member to sit for our version of the Proust Questionnaire.

The Shield: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Andy Baxa: For me, perfect happiness a stress-free day hanging out with my girls. My girls being my wife and my daughters. That would probably be about as perfect happy of a day that I could have. Throw in a Texas Tech football win, and it’s about perfect.

TS: What’s your greatest fear?

AB: Not living to see that my kids make it in life. I want to see that they make it, I want to know that they’re going to be OK.

TS: Which living person do you most admire?

AB: Mr. Garrison popped in my head, and I was like, ‘No, that’d be cheesy. I’m not going to say that.’ But I do admire him. He worked hard, and he made it far.

TS: There’s nothing wrong with cheesy. I think a lot of people admire him.

AB: I definitely learned a lot in the 15 years that I worked underneath him. I learned a lot about mutual respect from working with Mr. Garrison over the last 15 years. It wouldn’t be a bad one to say, but that’s the cliché answer, the cheesy answer.

TS: What is your current state of mind?

AB: That’s a tough question on a Monday morning, especially after the weekend I’ve dealt with. My current state of mind is controlled chaos. That would probably be the best way to describe my mind right now. There’s a lot of craziness, but it’s all controlled.

Senior Janael Copeland and junior Andrea Paredes wrap assistant principal Andy Baxa in blue streamers at the Back to Mac pep rally on Aug. 14 in the gym. Photo by Bella Russo.

TS: Which living person do you most despise?

AB: Probably the creator of Snap[chat]… no I’m just kidding. Right now I’m probably despising AISD PD for moving Reilly, but I won’t say that. I really don’t despise anybody. I know that sounds hokey and everything, but despise is an emotion that I really don’t have time for. It really doesn’t enter into my frame of mind. If there’s something I don’t like about something, I deal with it, or I move on. I believe in what I say to other kids, “Focus on what you can deal with, and if you have no control over it, don’t let it have any control over you.”

TS: Who is the greatest love of your life?

AB: My kids are my greatest love of my life. I love my wife, but I’ve always said children are kind of the purpose of life because it’s your way to leave a lasting mark on society. There is a lot of deliberate stuff I’ve done throughout raising my children to break cycles of things that I went through as a kid, so my kids are definitely my greatest love.

TS: Which talent would you most like to have?

AB: If you’re talking about special abilities, I would love to be able to read minds. That would be a blessing and a curse. And really I’d only want to be able to read my wife’s mind. But as far as a talent, I would love to be able to play drums. I can read music, [but] I can’t make my left and my right hand do different things. Drums was always something I thought was cool and would love to be able to play, but I know I do not have the talent or the ability to play drums.

I really don’t despise anybody. I know that sounds hokey and everything, but despise is an emotion that I really don’t have time for.

— Andy Baxa

TS: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

AB: My love of chocolate. I love chocolate entirely too much. If I could get rid of my love of chocolate and sodas, that’d be awesome.

TS: What would you consider your greatest achievement?

AB: I don’t think I’ve reached my greatest achievement yet. Again, focusing on what is my greatest love and what I think is the purpose, I have to see my kids make it. Whenever I know they’re successful and they’re on their path, then I feel like that’ll be my greatest achievement. Other than that, everything else is just built in to help them and to get them set up to be as wonderful people as they can be.

TS: Interesting, I like that. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

AB: I always thought some sort of a bird that can travel across wherever they want to be would be kind of cool. But also, I grew up in the water; I lived in the water. I mean, every job I’ve ever done up until this [one] pretty much has had water and aquatics, from training lifeguards to lifeguarding to building pools to maintaining pools to running swim team programs to oddity lifeguards here with the City of Austin. I’ve done a lot of aquatic work, so being a sea creature, being a shark or something would be pretty cool too.

TS: What do you most value in your friends or the people around you?

AB: Truth and loyalty. Because at the end of the day, you have to trust that your friends are going to be honest with you. If your friends aren’t going to be honest with you, who the hell will be? Be honest with me, be loyal to me. I’ll be honest and loyal to you. That right there I think goes a long way in most friendships. It’s whenever people are faking, not honest, when we really run into issues.

TS: What are your favorite names?

AB: What do you mean by names? Like names that I’ve heard [myself] called or just names like in general?

TS: I think you can take any kind of interpretation.

AB: So if we’re saying names that I’ve been called, I actually had a class, it was the Class of ’07. They came in, and we’re talking about my last name. My last name being Baxa, it gets picked on a little bit, and I’ve heard all the jokes. “Are you a boxer?” “Do you live in a box?” I’ve heard them all. So I told that class, I said “You know what? I’ve heard them all, but if you guys can come up with something original, I will let you guys call me that.” So this girl’s sitting there, raises her hand, “How about Mr. ‘Chewbaxa?’” I said, “Go for it. I have never heard that one before, I will respond to that throughout the rest of this year.” So throughout the rest of the year, she called me Mr. Chewbaxa.

It’s hard to call things a great regret because again, everything you’ve done led you to the position that you’re in today.

— Andy Baxa

TS: What is your greatest regret?

AB: It’s hard to call things a great regret because again, everything you’ve done led you to the position that you’re in today, so a decision that I change along the way could lead me to a different spot altogether, here and now today. I would have probably played sports in high school. When I was in high school, I was not anywhere near this size. I was like a 5’6, maybe a 130-pound freshman trying to play those tackles; it wasn’t going to work. I was going up against people that are 6’2, 6’3, 340 pounds. If I’d known I was going to end up being this size, I would take my lumps my first two years. And by my junior and senior year, I would have been the biggest kid on the team, and it would have given me the chance to explore an athletic dream that I never got to do.

I felt like I had to make a decision at my school. My school was so huge that you couldn’t do everything that you can here. If you’re gonna do band, you had to do band. If you wanted to do sports, you had to do sports. There wasn’t really an opportunity to do both. So looking at my size, I was like, “I’m gonna be killed if I try to go do football,” let me switch over here and focus on band. What I would encourage [students] to do is do whatever you want to do; do whatever you feel passionate about. Good things will happen if you follow your passion.

TS: The last one is, what is your motto?

AB: I’ve actually lived by this most of my life, “You gotta go crazy from time to time to keep from going insane.” I say think about those people that have gone postal; those people have probably never had a crazy moment in their life. If you keep it bottled up, that’s how you end up going insane. You’ve got to do something a little bit crazy to break the monotony of everyday life so you don’t go completely insane.

—interview by Elisha Scott