After teaching elementary school for a dozen years, Frances Schoonmaker directed the graduate elementary and middle school teacher education program at Teachers College, Columbia University for nearly twenty years, a program drawing heavily on children’s literature and storytelling. Publications for children include five books in the Sterling Poetry for Young People series and Growing UpCaringExploring Values and Decision-Making (Glencoe/Macmillan). Upon retirement from Teachers College, Schoonmaker was awarded the title Professor Emerita. 

Born in Lawton, OK, Schoonmaker and her two brothers were reared on a farm. Her parents were farmers and schoolteachers.  As a child, she was fascinated by stories told by pioneer grandparents and exploring the remains of the dugout where her mother was born. Books about pioneers and those that create imaginative worlds were among her favorites. Schoonmaker makes room for both fact and fancy in The Black Alabaster Box, her newly released historical fantasy for middle grades and above. She draws on her background of growing up in rural Oklahoma to furnish vivid details of place and context. 

Schoonmaker has taught, lectured, and consulted internationally. She led the teacher education initiative for Teachers College in Afghanistan, a collaboration with UNICEF and the Transitional Government of Afghanistan.  She worked with the Queen Rania Teacher Aademy in Jordan, and served as Senior Curriculum Specialist for the USAID Teacher Education Project in Pakistan. She has been Visiting Professor, Nanjing Normal University in China, and Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Education at University of London and at York University, UK. 

Schoonmaker holds degrees from The University of Washington; George Peabody College, Vanderbilt University; and Teachers College, Columbia University.  She resides in Baltimore, Maryland with her family.