Instructors & Staff

The Institute’s FlowerSchool staff includes seasoned professionals and educators with years of experience and expertise.  Here at FlowerSchool students work with real, working professionals who have years of experience in expertise in their field.  Meet your instructors:

Calvert Crary, Executive Director, Instructor

Calvert Crary is the Executive Director of both FlowerSchool New York and FlowerSchool Los Angeles, and author of Flower School: A Practical Guide to the Art of Flower Arranging (Nov 2020).

An internationally recognized instructor and mentor, Calvert has taught programs across the United States, Holland, Mexico and Australia, and was this year’s judge for the prestigious PHS Philadelphia Flower Show.

Calvert has trained and coached thousands of students on how to work in the floral industry with top designers, start new businesses, or reorganize existing floral businesses into thriving careers.

Tara Sandonato, Operations Director & Instructor

Tara Sandonato has been a creative force in the floral industry, starting at the early age of 16. She stumbled onto it accidentally and never looked back. Tara has worked for several well-respected event and floral companies in Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles as a highly regarded freelance designer. She has traveled internationally using her love of flowers to create beautiful works of art. 
After 22 years in the floral industry, Tara has joined FlowerSchool Los Angeles as their Operations Direct, to inspire new designers and continue to grow and promote this exciting and ever changing profession. 

Jessi Owens, Adjunct Instructor​

Jessi Owens has been involved the floral design industry since the age of 17, where she started working at a flower shop in her hometown of Ridgefield, CT. While attending Savannah College of Art and Design for a BFA in Fashion Marketing and Management, she started her career in wedding planning. Her passion for events grew from there, inspiring her to work in the Savannah wedding industry and become a Certified Wedding Planner through The Bridal Society.

As the Events Director at FlowerSchool New York, Jessi enjoys harnessing her love for floral design and event planning into creating unique experiences with our designers and private clients. Jessi teaches Event Planning courses in LA.

Juan Villanueva, Instructor

Juan M. Villanueva, owner of Villanueva Designs, is a second-generation florist from South Texas, who for the past 10 years has successfully served Manhattan and its surrounding areas, as the city’s best kept floral design secret.

Having studied fine arts at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Juan and his company bring an experienced artistic touch to all their projects. They specialize in private client, trade shows & corporate galas but are equally known for their indoor/outdoor urban gardens. On his journey, he has had the privilege of working with A-list celebrities, titans of industry, world-renowned interior designers, premier fashion houses & amazing humanitarian organizations. Juan teaches select workshops for FlowerSchool New York.