In 2012, Dr. K purchased the practice from Dr. Terry Horlick (who retired in 2015), and branded it as Caring Tree Children’s Dentistry. Caring Tree is now expanding to include a second office in Lincoln later in 2018. Dr. K nurtures a supportive, joyful, and cohesive team in her practice, knowing this ensures the most positive dental experiences for our young patients and their families.
Dr. Michelle Kucera, known as Dr. K, has always loved children.
One of her most profoundly touching moments came when she and her slightly younger sister were babysitting their much younger and then very small sister, a toddler. They decided to encourage the little one to walk by standing at opposite ends of the room and calling to her. The adolescent Dr. K and sister cajoled, cheered, supported and reassured the baby. Much to their surprise, the toddler took her first steps! This was an exciting and life-affirming moment for a teenage girl.
When Dr. K was in high school, she got a job with a local dentist and orthodontist. At the time, like most high school kids, it seemed like a way to get some income. As time went on, she became fascinated by interacting with so many different people during the course of the day. She loved the science of dentistry – there was so much to learn.
A guidance counselor inadvertently propelled Dr. K to dental school by suggesting she set her sights on working for another dentist as a hygienist. Always an achiever, Dr. K felt she would be happier becoming her own boss. Not long after that, she attended Case Western Reserve University, graduating in only six years instead of the typical eight.
Always valuing a relationship with others, she was interested in patients’ stories while in dental school. She took the time to listen and develop a bond with them, earning their trust and honoring them as individuals. She was surprised when these patients often brought her small presents as tokens of their gratitude. As far as Dr. K was concerned, the gift of time was essential and natural – she truly cared what they had to say.
An Aunt was an exciting and enchanting role model for young Dr. K. This Aunt was an independent and opinionated woman with a singular goal – to become an airline pilot. Dr. K followed her Aunt’s career with fascination and reverence. The Aunt began her career as a flight instructor, then became a pilot flying freight at night. So difficult was it at that time for her to enter a male-dominated field, she needed the tenacity and sheer focus to persevere. Now, she is a pilot for Delta Airlines. She was the first woman in Dr. K’s family to achieve such an impressive level of education and responsibility, and served as a wonderful model to encourage a young woman to follow her own path.
Her long list of goals includes riding her bicycle across the United States, learning to speak Spanish well, and someday perhaps joining the Peace Corps. She loves spending time with her daughter, a toddler and watching her grow and learn. She also looks forward to traveling with her husband and daughter to India, Asia and eventually Africa. The discovery of new and creative foods is part of the pleasure of travel.
The creation of a cohesive and joyful team who supports one another is something Dr. K works to nurture in her practice. After purchasing Caring Tree Children’s Dentistry in August of 2012, she immediately set out to honor and show respect to her entire team, knowing that this ensures the very best of experiences to her young patients and their families.
Doctor of Dental Surgery
Pediatric Dental Certificate
American Board of Pediatric Dentistry Board Certification
California Oral Conscious Sedation License
Staff Member Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital
Basic Life Support Certification
Robyn truly understands the challenges parents with young children face. As a single mother of three children before she was 25, she held two jobs and attended Dental School to become a Registered Dental Assistant. Although at times it was daunting, she persevered, and graduated at the top of her class.
This tenacity still serves her well. The desire to make a better life for her family has given her the vision to move forward in spite of everyday struggles. Her son, now a young adult, has had a serious chronic health issue for much of his life, requiring many surgeries over the years. Because of this, she has had ample opportunity to observe medical personnel communicate with both her and her son. She wants to do better than many of those with whom she has interacted.
As a result, she has learned how to communicate with empathy; to recognize fear and frustration in parents and kids. Having spent so much time in hospitals, she has an uncommon perspective into the challenge faced by a parent whose child needs hospital dentistry, and can truly help them know they are in competent hands.
One of her goals is to someday open a full-service shelter for families – one which will fill the basic needs of all people with respect and compassion. She values hard work and is known for her insistence on working until the job is done – no matter how long it takes.
Robyn grew up on the family’s dairy farm with her sister. She remembers always being surrounded by family – her Dad had 10 siblings and her Mom 4, so Aunts, Uncles and Cousins were always present. Long days on the dairy were made interesting to a young girl by riding on the tractor and feeding the hungry animals.
One of her favorite role models is a nurse who cared for her son at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. This nurse, in spite of being tired and overworked, took it upon herself to make certain Robyn’s son got all services he needed, even when this meant she followed up by making calls to doctors or social services on her own time.
Her favorite thing about Dental School? She got to attend with her best friend. They entered school and graduated together, helping each other along the way with encouragement and understanding.
Registered Dental Assistant (2001)
Coronal Polish License
Basic Life Support Certification
One of Irene’s favorite moments was when she was helping a very young patient. The little girl was in a panic over having her teeth cleaned. She was terrified and clinging to her mother. Irene patiently began to show the little girl all the instruments and explained what they were for in language the child could understand. After a few minutes, the little girl looked up at her mother, smiled and said, “You can go, I’m fine!”
Irene’s philosophy is simple but profound. Give a child some control over her situation, and she will be comfortable and confident. Patience, kindness and understanding go a long way, and make the experience a positive one for all involved.
Irene grew up in a large and loving family. There were three girls and two boys. She is the oldest daughter and loved helping with the younger children. She loves working with children in part because they have a wonderful sense of humor and an individual perspective on their own environment.
When Irene was only 19, she started working for the dentist she had seen since she was three years old. The dental assistant had been her babysitter, and even though the assistant was only a few years older than Irene, she proved to be an excellent mentor.
An advocate for the environment, Irene makes an effort to set an example by re-using items rather than simply throwing them away. She has plans to travel in the future – and wants to immerse herself in the history, art and culture of faraway lands.
Irene and her husband love the challenge and puzzle of restoring old cars, particularly Ford Mustangs. They have two daughters who appreciate and understand that what Mom does helps other children. Both her husband and daughters benefit from her love of cooking and hobby of creating new, interesting, and healthful recipes, for which they are willing ‘testers’.
Gentle, sweet and honest is how she describes Dr. K. She says, “Dr. K is someone you want your own kids to go to for their dental needs.”
Registered Dental Assistant (1980)
Caring Tree Team Member (18+ years)
Licensed X-Ray & Coronal Polish
Auxiliary/Guest Staff General Anesthesia Assistant at Sierra Nevada Memorial
Basic Life Support Certification
It warms Debbie’s heart to watch things grow – flowers, plants and children. She embraces the power of encouragement to help preschoolers develop their sense of innate curiosity about the world.
She is also acutely aware of the need for compassion and acceptance. As a young child, Debbie lived in the same small neighborhood of South San Francisco with three of her closest friends. Although each came from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, they recognized a kindred spirit in each other. Inseparable, the girls explored, learned and shared.
During an adventure in Golden Gate Park as ten-year-olds, they encountered a group of older girls who were far more ‘street-wise’. These girls were angry and berated Debbie’s best friend of color for being with her. Until then, the four never even gave a thought to their differences; so connected were they by their similarities. Afraid but undaunted, Debbie felt the sting of injustice. It was the beginning of a lifelong quest to promote tolerance and respect for all people. To this day Debbie and her friend Sharda, whose family came from India, are still close.
A painfully shy child, Debbie was not comfortable talking with her teacher or classmates in her early school years. In fact, so shy was she that she simply didn’t speak until second grade. Her third-grade teacher saw who she was inside – an intelligent, curious little girl who simply hadn’t learned to speak her mind. Mrs. White made an effort to complement Debbie often, showing interest in her opinions and ideas. As is often the case, the simple kindness of one adult opened the door for Debbie to develop self-confidence and courage.
Like many reserved people, Debbie’s listening skills serve her well in her position as Receptionist for Caring Tree. She loves the curiosity of the children she meets – and is especially fascinated with adolescents – their many interests, boundless energy, busy lives and inquisitive nature.
As part of the Caring Tree team, Debbie feels right at home. She is valued for the attributes she holds most dear – compassion, the ability to listen, acceptance and a strong work ethic.
Background in Medical Office Management
Basic Life Support Certificate
Computer Scheduling Software
Bill is a nearly complete newcomer to the dental world. Other than late-night and dinner table conversations with Dr. K about prophylaxis or the pros and cons of composites versus amalgams, his primary entry into this world is based upon the fact that he, indeed, has teeth. (You’ll surely note it in his gleaming smile.) Prior to working at Caring Tree, Bill practiced as a criminal defense attorney for nearly 15 years. At some point, he began to realize that something felt a little off with his life. (At this point, it should probably be mentioned that Bill not only works for Dr. K, but he’s also married to her.)
Anyway, at those times when late-night and dinner-table conversations between Bill and Dr. K were not about dentistry or the law, they steered towards the stress of being full-time working parents. Bill and Chelle (that’s her home name, along with “Momma”) both realized that they were working very hard and piling on tons of stress and something different needed to be done. In early 2019, they cautiously and nervously agreed that Bill should leave the law and work for Dr. K – that’s right, for, not with. While you might think that he gets a pass because of his marital status, you’d be right, but for the wrong reason. He gets a pass because he works for an amazing person and, yeah, he actually likes it.
Bill’s focus will be twofold: marketing and front-office assisting. Most of his focus will be on building up the Lincoln Caring Tree Office. That means that Bill will always put forth his best argument as to why Caring Tree is the best (and frankly, the only) option for your child’s dental care. Except, instead of making a dramatic closing argument in front of a jury, he’ll just let your kids’ health and happiness speak for him.
(P.S. Don’t ask him for legal advice, he’ll just tell you to call a lawyer.)
Born and raised, through and through, Lincoln. Before working for Dr, K, I was a 2018 Lincoln High grad. Go Zebras! While in school, I was a member of the Cheer Team and the FFA Leadership. Much of my time was otherwise spent snowboarding, drawing, doing yoga and hanging with my family and dogs. Oh, and binge-watching drama and sci-fi.
I have always been interested in psychology, travel and history. I love learning about people and what makes them tick. I think that’s also what makes me want to travel – to learn about the people, the culture and the history. And, the food, of course. First on my list is Rome, but if you have an extra ticket to somewhere else, let’s talk.
I have always appreciated the influence of the several mentors in my life, from my mom and stepdad, to my high school leadership teacher and counselor, and now Dr. K and her awesome staff. Every time I find any difficulty in life, I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by patient yet encouraging people
Honestly, when I graduated, I wasn’t sure what I would do next. I knew I loved children (as an Aunt since 8, I better) I figured it could be a good fit. I’m frankly surprised where I am from where I started. When I started, I knew little about the dental field, and everything I know today, I know from Dr. K and her staff (especially Robyn). I truly enjoy working at Caring Tree. I feel great joy in seeing kids of all ages ad how happy and playful they are. I’m actually a bit jealous that I didn’t go to a pediatric dentist when I was a kid. Instead, I get to watch all these happy kids grow over the years and that sorta makes up for it.
Sure, it took Stevi some time and travel to make her way to us at Caring Tree Dentistry. Stevi worked her way here via Utah, Arkansas and Florida. She’s assured us she’s not running from the law through her favorite movies are anything crime-related or Disney. It makes sense, since most Disney movies start with a mysteriously disappeared parent. Were she not showing children how a visit to the dentist can be fun, she might have become a crime scene investigator. Anyway, after 3+ years in the dental world, she finally landed at a kids’ office.
Although we can see it in her everyday work ethic and genuine care for the kids, she clearly was made for this work. She clearly loves kids. One of her goals is to be the best mom she can be to her son. Also, she loves hockey (Go Tampa Bay!!), which is sort-of like watching tough kids skate, right? Lucky for us (and ya’ll) from the day she joined our team, we could all see her compassion, respect, comfort and playfulness with the kids.
Among her joys in life are going to the beach or jogging with her son, or going on adventures with her boyfriend. Among her joys at work are interacting with your crazy kids. Kids can be hilarious, silly and very brave. It’s a joy for her to work with them every day.
Looking back, she credits her awesome dad with being her greatest mentor because he is so strong and hard-working – qualities that she clearly has. It’s also fair to say that her son, who has autism, is equally an inspiration. Both her father and her son have dealt with great challenges in their lives and serve to guide her and encourage her to never give up.
Make sure you say hi to Stevi and ask her theory about what she really thinks happened to Mr. Potts.