1003 Carol Lane
Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 283-6792

License # 073406651

Our Director: Sandra Ashley Swimmer

Ms. Ashley is the director and the supervising teacher at Building Bridges Preschool. She is a CA credentialed elementary school teacher and is certified in Pediatric CPR and First Aid. She has completed the BTSA induction program for the No Child Left Behind initiative putting her at the highest level of qualifications for a credentialed teacher. She has had experience teaching in elementary school classrooms at a variety of different grade levels. Her passion for teaching inspired her to create this program designed to help your child build bridges toward a future of educational success.

Ms. Ashley is a Lafayette resident and the mother of two beautiful daughters. Her oldest is a now a mother herself, making Ms. Ashley a grandmother! Her youngest, recently graduated from Acalanes High School, now attends Diablo Valley College.


Assistant Director & Curriculum Instructor: Nicole Damhesel

Ms. Nicole has worked at local area preschools since she was 16 years old. She has been with Building Bridges since 2010. Not only is she a treasure in the classroom, she is a vital contributer to our curriculum development and teacher training program. Nicole is certified in Pediatric CPR and First Aid. She is a proud mother of a beautiful young daughter. Nicole has lived in Lamorinda her entire life and is happy to be raising her child in this wonderful community.


Lead Teacher - Big's Classroom: Karen Isham
Ms. Karen has taught preschool for many years in the Lamorinda community. She frequently runs into her past students when she is out and about town, and always takes the time to catch up. She too grew up in Larmorinda and raised a wonderful son here that recently graduated from Cal State Chico. Karen has been teaching at Building Bridges since 2015 and we look forward to many more years with her leading our Big's classroom. She has a passion for working with preschoolers as she is a big kid at heart. She loves reading stories, singing silly songs and jumping rope. Often referred to as Grandma K, she is a wonderful asset to the Building Bridges team.


Lead Teacher - Little's Classroom: Heather Aguilar
Ms. Heather worked for 7 years as a nanny before joining the Building Bridges team in 2016. She was a friend of the preschool for several years prior to becoming a staff teacher, as the children she cared for were students here. Now teaching our Little's class, she is happiest when she is sitting on the carpet with her students all around her, reading some of her favorite stories. Heather has also taken on the role of managing our Agriculture program, taking care of the variety of animals we have at the center. She is always looking for new and creative ways to engage the children exploring animal and life sciences. The kids know her for being a die-hard Giants fan, loving penguins, and wearing backwards baseball hats!


Asst. Teacher: Katrina Ilas
Ms. Katrina joined the Building Bridges team in 2016. She is currently attending Cal State Sacramento working towards her Psychology degree. Katrina loves children and assists with both the Little's class and the Big's. She is often heard singing songs around the school. She speaks Tagalog and is learning sign language. Katrina is very family oriented and spends much of her free time with her parents and brothers. She is intuitive and energetic, and actively looks to the lead teachers for learning opportunities. We expect great things from her in the future!


Asst. Teacher: Mary Chiu
Ms. Mary joined the Building Bridges team in 2017. She is an avid animal lover and so enjoys engaging with the children and the animals at the center. She also loves yoga and nature. Her calming spirit is an asset in the Big's classroom, where she spends most of her time assisting. You will often find Mary engaging with the children, listening to them tell stories about their weekends. Mary is newly married, enjoying a Spring 2017 honeymoon!


Volunteer Helper: Sierra
Ms. Sierra is a local Acalanes high school student who volunteers at Building Bridges during the summer months and is a natural with the children. She can be found doing art projects with the kids, building elaborate lego structures with them, or spinning with them on the tire swing. Sierra also assists Heather with the animal care, and she helps out in both of our classrooms. The teachers and children are equally excited to see her each summer!