Treehouse Learning is a private, locally owned Early Childhood Education program. Treehouse Learning is located on 1.25 acres in the Indian Peaks neighborhood of Lafayette at 95th and Baseline. Completed in 1997, the building is distinguished by its unique design, triangular roof line and windows, along with generous large natural grass playgrounds. The original facility was designed and built specifically with children and families in mind. The classrooms, lobby and kitchen all radiate from the center common room which is distinguished by abundant natural light.
Our primary mission is to provide a safe, stimulating environment to support early learning experiences and support healthy social emotional growth. Developmental research has identified “windows of opportunity” in children for optimal times to learn language, analytical reasoning, spatial relationships, physical coordination, and musical abilities. We believe that children deserve excellent care and nurturing in the company of experienced and trained early care professionals. Fundamental to our mission is our commitment to maintain a knowledgeable, responsive, teaching staff that is dedicated to early childhood education as a career and a profession.
Our Administrative team assures that the Treehouse program functions smoothly, maintains licensing requirements, keeps direct focus on excellence, and effectively communicates with the Treehouse community of families and teachers.
Amy Benson May (She/Her/Hers)
A Boulder native and Fairview High School graduate, Amy Benson May was a high school student at the time Treehouse Learning opened its doors for the first time. A Varsity runner on the Fairview Colorado 5A/ Division I State Championship Cross-Country team under head coach Joanne Ernst, Amy’s upbringing was heavily shaped by movement, community, and connection to the land around her. She received her B.A. from Smith College with a degree in Women’s Studies, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, after a non-traditional path of study, including immersion-based experiences in South America and opportunities to learn French, Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese.
With the noblest of ambitions at the time to “smash the patriarchy” from within, she began her post-college career as a Wall Street financial analyst in New York at Banc of America Securities in Alternative Investments, Strategy & Corporate Development at BNP Paribas Global Equities, and at Harvard Management Company, the financial arm of Harvard’s endowment. Though passionate about organizational leadership, management, and the intersection of systems, institutions, and culture, she eventually left the fiance world around the time of her own emergence into motherhood, recognizing there were healthier ways to build the world she’d like to see than attempting to infiltrate and transform global systems on Wall Street.
Amy embarked on a path to become a homebirth midwife and practiced as a doula, but eventually recognized she was called in a different direction to advocate around maternal & childbirth issues, including restorative and regenerative justice issues around race, class, and the environment, beginning through the lens of her own inter-racial family. In early 2012, Amy, along with her husband Osei, and oldest of 4 eventual children left Boston to return to Colorado after the cancer diagnosis of Dr. Nancy Benson, Treehouse Learning’s founder, and Amy’s mother.
After the death of Dr. Benson, Amy found herself in the position of a business owner, new parent, and educator. She dedicated the next decade to personal and professional learning around early childhood development and whole-person integration primarily through the experience and explorations of a home/world-based education with her own four children on their family homestead. As a family, they focused on self-leadership and self-actualization and empowering their children with skills to thrive on this planet. Amy focused heavily on exploring the impact of generational trauma in order to disrupt/replace dysfunctional family patterns and engage in life-long learning and brain growth, and brings a trauma-informed perspective of supporting well-being and optimal child developmental experiences to her life’s passion and work.
Along with a decade of formal coursework and informal educational experiences, her most influential learning opportunities have come from self-directed engagement with researchers, thinkers, writers, and the community, as well as personal exploratory and self-reflective work around brain neuroscience, indigenous perspectives on whole-person/whole-planet wellbeing, imagining a just and thriving world, and exploring the experiential opportunities that lead to learning and whole-person development.
Part of an entire family of self-directed learners, Amy is a student of Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, an Alderian approach to Positive Discipline, respectful parenting, empowerment-based models of organizational leadership and systems, and the teachings of Jim Collins, Brene Brown, Dr. Daniel Siegel & Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, as well as a wide variety of indigenous voices on education, land, community, and integrated wellbeing. She believes that a holistic, respect-based understanding of children’s development, including the critical necessity of play, informs the types of adults children grow to become, shapes the world they will inherit, and guides our path to empowering all humans with the skills necessary to solve some of the collective challenges facing the earth and its living things.
Amy’s movement, music, and arts background encompasses distance running (including 9 marathons, dozens of ½ marathons, and everything in between), Karate, and dance (including African, Caribbean, and Afro-Brazilian dance forms). As an adult, she engages her inner creative artist by drawing and painting birds, playing piano, and making up songs, which are inspired by experiences within her own family and shared with the Treehouse Learning community.
Amy feels most content when finding regular time for writing, running, digging in the dirt, and playing with her family. Along with her partner, 4 children, and various living plants and animals (a puppy, geese, ducks, chickens, beehives, an orchard, and a market garden), Amy and her family are each co-learners in permaculture and regenerative growing practices and engage as active participants in creating a more sustainable, equitable, and just future.
As a member of an intergenerational and interracial family, Amy is an active participant in building the kind of world that she’d like the generations following her to inherit through an ongoing process of decolonization and self-awareness. Her passion is building belonging, inclusion, and participating in healing the world’s traumas, and breaking generational and historical patterns through collective togetherness and community where we learn to see one another rather than see one as “an other.“
She/Her/Hers I am a Colorado native! I split my childhood between the eastern plains and the front range mountains. I have lived most of my life at 9,000’ and love all the hiking, running, and 4 wheeling that it has to offer. I left home for college and received my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Knox College in Illinois. After learning that my heart belongs in early childhood education, I completed the Buell Early Childhood Leadership fellowship which earned my director’s certification. Last year, I received my Master’s degree in Leadership for Educational Organizations with an early childhood focus. When I’m not out with my family in the woods, I enjoy writing our legislators about all things related to families and children, you may even see me down at the Capitol from time to time!
Dr. Nancy Benson (1948-2012)
The Treehouse Learning program is a continuation of Nancy’s personal and professional commitment to the field of education. Nancy enjoyed a lengthy career in public school and higher education, spanning elementary, middle and high school, and university teaching.
She held an M.A. (1975) with specialization in reading K-12, and a Ph.D. (1979) in education with focus on evaluation methodology, both from CU-Boulder. Her daughters, Susan and Amy, were influential in shaping her notions about parenting and education. Until August 2011, Nancy maintained an active role in the leadership of Treehouse Learning as one of the Directors, and she enjoyed writing, speaking, and research on topics related to early childhood education. Her legacy is evident at Treehouse Learning with each new year, we watch confident kindergartners move on, and we greet bright-eyed infants as they are just starting out. We are proud to continue on the path Nancy paved.
Susan Benson Horn-Paxson (right) and Amy Benson May, daughters of founder Nancy Benson, are the local owners of Treehouse Learning. Their goal is to facilitate Treehouse’s mission and honor Nancy’s vision of a strong contribution to early childhood education in Boulder County.
Amy and Susan have both enjoyed the dual roles of owners and parents at Treehouse Learning.
The quality and professionalism of our Treehouse Learning teachers clearly demonstrate our values and mission of behalf of children. Models of lifelong learning themselves, our teachers share a commitment to the early childhood profession, and live their work with dedication, skill, and integrity.