Evan Psencik ‘05 is divinely driven by the strength of his Catholic faith. And just as readily relates to the Yiddish adage “Mann tracht, un Gott lacht.”

Translation – “Man plans, and God laughs.”

The dynamic first-year principal at St. Dominic Savio High School in burgeoning north Austin required much more than superior credentials, a commanding personality, and a TomTom Go Discover GPS to navigate the long and winding and often unpredictable road to a dream career destination.

It took God’s calling. Patience. And trust.

And now Psencik, without a hint of self-interest attention, or validation, is flashing a vision that is both dedicated and spectacular.

Savio is the first Catholic high school in its rapidly exploding suburb. The 45-acre campus officially opened on August 31, 2009, with 86 students and has steadily grown to more than 400. In 2013, the Diocese of Austin created a shared governance model between Savio and Holy Family Catholic School to work collaboratively. Savio is also served by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist as teachers and in various campus ministry-related activities.

“The one-on-one engagement during the interview on campus emphasized two things that sold me,” Psencik says. “The family atmosphere is absolutely real. And the Catholic identity is truly authentic. The presence of the Dominicans is such a positive element on campus. It was a true blessing when I received the call with the opportunity.”

Timothy Cullen is the joint president of Savio and Holy Family and says “Evan was the clear choice to become our new leader. He came across as a caring, faith-filled educator who wanted to be part of a school that believed in being the best it could be in all areas. He was consistent in his message, sincerity, and energy. Since his arrival, Evan has lived his words and demonstrated the skills we hoped for in his actions. He’s infused the importance of his relationship with Christ in all of his communications.”

Psencik followed his brother Adam ‘00 to St. Thomas and excelled in the rigorous math and science programs. The predictable academic projections called for an engineering track. He was accepted into the honors program at the University of Houston and quickly was hammered with a stunning revelation with the once-upon-a-time force of a Mike Tyson fistfight to the floor.

“I hated engineering.”

Psencik changed his major to math to launch a teaching career but his quandary remained unchanged. Unsure and lacking confidence in plotting his future he “finally prayed to God and asked for his guidance and felt a calling of sorts. I had been in Catholic school my entire life and was always intrigued by theology, so I adjusted my major again to become a theology teacher.”

Psencik also flipped schools, transferring to the University of St. Thomas with designs on returning to his high school alma mater and joining the faculty.

However …

On the brink of graduation and placing his strategy in play, Psencik was presented with an alternative option. He was hired by his family parish St. Edward Catholic School in Spring for their thriving youth ministry program. After four years of substantive work, he vaulted to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in their office of Evangelization and Catechesis as associate director.

Life’s express bullet train accelerated with marriage to Cynthia in 2015, a move to Connecticut and a ministry position with the Bridgeport Diocese, a teaching and coaching position at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, a Master of Science in Administration and Supervision from Fordham University. All to land back near family, friends, and home as a high school principal.

Of course.

“God took me on an unforseen path,” Psencik says. “When I heard his call I thought I would become a theology teacher. Then I was somewhere else for 10 years, then back to teaching, and now full circle back to Texas. All according to plan. His plan.

“I was doing things my way and it wasn’t working. I believe God is always very clear about where he wants me to be in real-time. Living in Connecticut? Teaching in the Bronx? Principal of a Catholic school in Austin? None of that was the original blueprint. I had to believe.”

While at Spellman, Psencik proved to be a gifted theology educator who demonstrated cutting-edge educational practices while relating to his students’ life experiences. “Our enrollment was about 1,200, 70 percent students of color, less than 50 percent Catholic. Many had no idea of faith or God so it was a great opportunity to evangelize.”

His Masters requirements at Fordham also demanded an administrative internship in addition to his academic and athletic responsibilities at Spellman. “I gained an understanding of affecting students through the faculty as opposed to the strict classroom impact. Empowering and developing teachers is essential in supporting a student’s growth and pathways to a college education.”

Psencik inherited established success at Savio with a growing student body and dedicated, experienced staff. He respects that a stable, long-term faculty is a key determinant of student achievement. He is constantly absorbed, fostering an environment that provides creativity and freedom, constructive feedback, and individualized tutelage.

And perhaps most critically, Psencik is fortifying a culture by understanding the exhausting, draining, all-encompassing, exhilarating powers of the profession colliding all at once with the rewards rooted in the satisfaction of seeing young men and women learn. “I’m intentional in individual communication and building relationships. Strong connections at every level create effective leadership.”

In many ways, Psencik is replicating many of the meaningful elements of his St. Thomas student experience into his drive at Savio for unmatched pedagogy and tireless commitment to mentorship.

“I always felt the St. Thomas campus community wanted what was best for me and my classmates,” he says. “We lived our faith daily through Masses and retreats, and that impacted me greatly through my own faith journey. The environment was so positive and my goal is to instill much the same at St. Dominic.”

Evan met Cynthia through their shared passion for youth ministry. Her position with the Archdiocese of New York necessitated their relocation to Connecticut. She’s now involved with the Washington, D.C.-based Catholic not-for-profit The Given Institute which is dedicated to “activating the gifts of young adult women for the Catholic Church and the world.”

Theirs is a dual dose of creativity, humanity, and empathy to maximize opportunity for others, now and into the near future. Their life journey unfolded with amazing detours if not washed-out bridges, certainly people and places Psencik never imagined. Ultimately, he didn’t need to know the route, or even how he would reach the destination, simply a view of what he was searching.

And a plan. God’s plan.

He’s now riveted by every new dawn. True to self in equal measure to the depths of his Catholic faith. Not for personal achievement or acclaim but for servant leadership.

“It’s priceless. No amount of money can provide what I have right in front of me.”

Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.