Our Team

Our Mission

Dental Genius Assisting School was founded by Dr. Thad H. Gillespie in 2007.  The Dental Genius Team provides high quality education with affordable and competitive tuition while allowing them to continue working full-time.  We know that people are capable of learning dental skills quickly if the learning process incorporates hands on training and mentoring.  We also highly emphasize the importance of interpersonal skills and communication skills.  We offer comprehensive guidance in interviewing and resume development, without additional fees.  We also believe it is important to offer continuing education opportunities to our alumni to further develop their skills.

Click here to view of video of Dr. Gillespie

Our Goals

  • One of our goals is to provide students with intensive hands-on training by active specialists in the field that are passionate about teaching.
  • Another goal is to allow students to maintain their current place of employment and to transition directly into their new career path.  Our classes are offered on Saturday.
  • Another goal is to help market students to potential employers. We recently added a new feature to our website which has published profiles of our graduates.  We are the only dental assisting school in the Central Texas with this feature and we are currently ranked #1 for placing our students in the Central Texas and Austin area.  Employers in the area love seeking our assistants by viewing their pictures, resumes and videotaped interviews all on our website.
  • Another goal is to provide students with effective clinical and interpersonal skills.  Our instructors guide students in developing stand out resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills and the confidence needed to complete internships and interviews.
  • Another goal is to keep our students costs down to a minimum.  Our tuition covers all textbooks, tests, scrubs.  We allow students to divide their tuition into a non interest accumulating payment plan and we do not charge more for that.  All of our students complete their online test for becoming a dental assistant before graduating.  We pride ourselves on being available to assist students in that process.
  • Another goal is to help facilitate excellent internship opportunities for our students.  We have connected with neighboring dental practices to set up times for students to work chair side at multiple sites, with multiple dentists, before choosing which place of employment they will work.

Dr. Gillespie has over 30 years of experience in general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry in the Austin, Texas area.  Dr. Gillespie prides himself on his active involvement in the program.  You will be taught at his practice, Liberty Hill Dental, using real equipment on real people.  Dr. Gillespie is present for almost every class session and is available throughout the week at his practice.  In the curriculum, Dr. Gillespie personally teaches students how to interview effectively, how to create a powerful resume and what dentists expect from chair side dental assistants.

Dr. Gillespie feels it is important to have experienced instructors that are currently active in the field of dentistry in order to teach and mentor Dental Genius students.  The current instructors are both full-time assistants and have many years of experience. Dental Genius instructors are very well connected with neighboring resources and practices and the latest technologies and research in the field.

The demand for professional dental assistants has never been greater.  Our school is the area’s best facility for preparing students for fulfilling and lifelong careers.  In just 12 classes, students may earn a Certificate of Achievement in our accelerated training program, gaining the skills necessary to begin a new career in dental assisting.  In order to ensure you receive a high quality education, we limit our class size to a maximum of 14 students.

Start your new career today.  Click here to schedule an interview and tour with our admissions counselor. (512)-484-4081.

Our Instructors/Team

 Thad Gillespie, DDS–Owner and Instructor

Dr. Thad Gillespie has been practicing general dentistry in the Austin, Texas area for over 37 years. Liberty Hill Dental is now housed in a brand new building with state of the art equipment in the field of dentistry and imaging.  He founded the Dental Genius Assisting School in 2007. Dr. Gillespie is a graduate of the Kois Center. He has extensive experience lecturing on clinical and aesthetic dentistry for The Hornbrook Group.  He has trained dentists in cities all over the country on how to improve their cosmetic clinical skills.   He is the volunteer Dental Director for Samaritan Health Ministries in Cedar Park, Texas.  He has served as the “Official Dentist” for  both the  Austin Toros Basketball Team and the Texas Stars Hockey Team and Texas Stars Ice Girls.  He is very passionate about giving back to the community and does this by educating people interested in their own personal dental health and for students interested in pursuing careers in dental health.  He is extremely involved with the curriculum for the school and is an active instructor on most Saturdays!

 Valerie Zapien, M.Ed.–Director and Professional Success Instructor

Valerie earned her Master’s degree in Education from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois in 2003.  She joined the Liberty Hill Dental team in November 2010 after working with Dr. Gillespie in various community events and organizations in the Austin, Texas area. She became the Admissions Counselor for the Dental Genius Assisting School in January 2011 and the Director in 2013.  She feels it is very important to share knowledge and resources with people to help them improve their quality of life.   She is determined to help every student achieve their goals!  When she is not teaching or helping students get careers, she is busy as the owner of Full Potential Consulting Services.  She also has over 20 years of professional experience as a social worker, mental health counselor, and education and prevention services coordinator.  She enjoys being outside, spending time with her husband, kiddos, family and friends, up-cycling furniture and shopping on Pinterest for decorating and fashion ideas.  You will not find another school with a professional as experienced as she is in getting students dental jobs!

Mecie Cardona, RDA–Assistant Director & Lead Instructor

Mecie graduated from Allied Health Careers in 2007.  She currently works as Assistant Director for DGAS.   She and her husband have 4 children. Her oldest son is a member of the United States Army Cavalry. Her three daughters are 16, 8 and 6 and all attend school in Georgetown, TX. She loves to travel with her family and enjoys spending time outdoors. She loves working in all aspects of dentistry and is excited to share her experiences and help others succeed in a career she loves so much!

Dental Assisting Instructor

Casey Helms, RDA–Instructor and Clinical Intern Coordinator

Casey graduated from Dental Genius Assisting School in April 2013.  In October 2012, she started off as the Front Desk Coordinator for Liberty Hill Dental and since then she has served as a dental assistant, patient coordinator and as an instructor for the school.   With over five years of customer service experience, she loves meeting new people and helping them in any way possible. Her ebullient personality makes everyone comfortable and she takes pride in seeing tasks through to the end.  She is excellent at system organization and her passion for passing along knowledge and skills made it clear to our team that she would be the perfect instructor.  Basically, Casey is good at everything she puts her mind to doing!  When she is not working, she loves spending her free time outside, hunting, and fishing with her husband, and adorable sons, Nolan and Hutson.  Oh, and yes, she is a soccer mom/coach too!

Bree Smith, RDA–Instructor and Front Desk Intern Coordinator

Bree graduated from Dental Genius Assisting School in March 2014 and was immediately hired by Liberty Hill Dental as a Dental Assistant.  Within less than a year, she advanced to lead assistant.  Her upbeat personality and her bright hair help her connect with patients and make them feel at ease. She is such a great dental assistant, we had to convince her she would be an amazing clinical instructor and she is!!!!!   In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, being outside, painting, and loving on her dog Zola and cat Cleo.

Samuel Mitchell, RDH– Instructor

Sam received a Bachelor of Science from Western States University of Alternative Medicine with a focus on Macrobiology, Biology, Histology, Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology.  He also received his Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from Oregon Health Science University.  He has been practicing dental hygiene for nineteen years.  He is a native Oregonian and has a passion for volunteering/serving because he believes it is the spiritual key to his professional and personal growth.  Sam also served six years in the United States Army with two combat tours.  All-The-Way!!

 Meghan Revell, RDA–Instructor

Meghan graduated from Dental Genius Assisting School in December 2014.  She’s been working in orthodontics every since and absolutely loves what she does! She’s currently a lead orthodontic assistant for Dr. Gates at Round Rock Orthodontics.  She’s a mother to 3 kiddos. She loves to be on new adventures, refinish furniture, and spend time with her family.


Adriana Spence, RDA–Marketing and Placement Assistant

Adriana graduated from Dental Genius Assisting School in September 2016. She is a Registered Dental Assistant in the State of Texas, X-Ray and CPR certified. Adriana works at Killeen Pediatric Dentistry as a Dental Assistant. From the moment she stepped foot into Dental Genius, a fire sparked in her and her passion for the dental field hasn’t stopped growing since. She loves both the clinical and front desk aspects of being in a dental office. She has an extensive receptionist and customer service background, and her outgoing and vibrant personality makes it easy for her to connect with students and patients. Adriana is excellent at planning and system organization, and she has a special talent for marketing for our students and school. She absolutely loves what she does and working hard. Her hobbies include cooking, DIY crafts, hunting, fishing and spending time with her daughter!!


Angelica Franco, RDA–Instructor’s Aide

Angelica Franco graduated from Austin Dental Assisting School in October 2014. She is currently employed as a Temporary Assistant with Dental Auxiliary Service-Austin. She enjoys traveling to various offices and learning the ins and outs of each operation. She believes this broad range of knowledge and experience with multiple doctors and offices will help her become a better instructor. She is thrilled to be able to share her experiences in order to help others be on their way to a rewarding career. During her time away from the office, she dedicates her days to spending time with her fiancé, Edward, sons Christian and Bentley and her busy toddler, Zoey.  And if you can’t find her…she will be at the gym!

Marissa Brock, RDA– Instructor’s Aide

Marissa graduated from Dental Genius Assisting School in 2016. She is currently a dental assistant/front desk at Healthy Smiles Dentistry. She has always had a passion for dentistry and wants to pursue her education in Dental Hygiene. She loves being cross trained and learning as much as she can to expand her knowledge in the dental field.  In her free time, she loves spending time with her family, friends and dogs.

Kacy Robertson, RDA– Instructor’s Aide

Kacy graduated from Dental Genius Assisting School in May 2017. She is currently a Registered Dental Assistant at Dream Smiles Dental in Georgetown. She is currently working on her prerequisites at Temple College for Dental Hygiene. She found a passion and love for dentistry and has a way with making the patients feel comfortable and calm. She is very eager to learn new things and enjoys sharing this with others. During her free time, she loves spending time with family, friends, her six dogs, and going to concerts.