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Alumni Highlights 2020

Dave Kovar ‘78 and Stephen Morairty ’78 on Mental and Physical Wellness

Sacramento Waldorf School graduated its first high school class in 1978, an effort that was led by long-time faculty member, Betty Staley. She credits the pioneering students of this class as instrumental to the success of establishing a high school. “We built it together,” shared Betty Staley, in an October 6, 2020 webinar featuring several Class of ’78 Alumni. She added, “It was not an easy group, but it was the right group!”

The “Alumni Highlights” webinar, the first in a series for the year, featured Dave Kovar and Stephen Morairty, in a conversation facilitated by Coach Dean Stark. They shared their current professions, the paths they followed to finding the work they do now, and how a Waldorf education has contributed to their lives.

Class Of 1978 Group Photo
The Class of 1978 and teacher Betty Staley pose on the banks of the American River.

Kovar launched a martial arts business that has grown to locations throughout the Sacramento Region. Kovar’s Satori Academy Martial Arts & Fitness trains thousands of people. While enrollment has declined by about a third during COVID, Kovar said he has modified his offerings as a means of retaining, and gaining, new students, and is successfully weathering the challenges.

Creating a mentoring and leadership program for other martial arts businesses was a natural extension for Kovar. His consulting program supports approximately 250 businesses. His exuberance and commonsense approach also have led to motivational speaking, focusing on creating a mindset for success that is based in health and mental wellness.

“Most of us didn’t pick our mindsets, our mindsets chose us. We got them from the environments we were raised in or the education we received or the experiences we had growing up. And sometimes they aren’t based in reality,” said Kovar. “We all have a series of mindsets. The key is: do our mindsets serve us?

Stephen Morairty’s profession as a neuroscientist provides an understanding of a path to wellness from a different angle. His work is focused on the intersection of health and physiology and the impact of sleep. Specifically, he researches electrophysiological biomarkers that associate health and disease, with the objective of helping to both diagnose disease and to develop therapeutics to address central nervous system diseases, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Over the past ten years of my career, there are fewer and fewer players even trying to develop treatments for central nervous system diseases,” said Morairty. “So, I’ve shifted my focus to the interplay of sleep and physiology and looking for ways to help diagnose and follow disease processes.”

When asked about the keys to their success, both Kovar and Morairty, credited their teachers at Sacramento Waldorf School with instilling confidence, and the multi-faceted approach to learning with providing critical capacities.

Morairty commented how Waldorf’s approach to education had provided an important foundational mindset for entering such an interdisciplinary field such as neuroscience.

Class Of 1978 Student Council
Dave Kovar, on the left, and Stephen Morairty, on the right, in a photo of class student council representatives, including Sally Riggs and Jeff Green.

“Most of my colleagues, when I was in grad school, weren’t coming from that perspective (multi-disciplinary education), so I felt that I had a leg up on them by having that as my foundational education in high school,” said Morairty. “This idea of multi-disciplinary, broad-based learning really, really enhanced my ability to grasp …the (diverse) concepts I needed to. …Waldorf education really served me well.”

The webinar conversation with Kovar and Morairty provided many insights into their work, valuable perspectives on living life well, and an overview of the opportunities gained from their years at the school.

View the entire webinar below: