With a degree in English from Virginia Tech and Association Montessori Internationale training, Goonan opened Giving Tree Montessori in 1979. It soon grew to include one hundred preschool and elementary students. Goonan taught and administrated her school for ten years. Since 1988, she has been a full-time writer.
Kathleen Goonan is presently a Visiting Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Science, Technology and Ideology.