Two of White’s students created their own business and began to pursue careers in software development as a result of the class.

iPad integration specialist Thomas White, who hadn’t written any software code for nearly two decades, was tasked with creating an app programming class for students at his private high school. Here’s how he tackled this challenge.

In April 2010, the iPad went on sale in America. That same day, Stephen Sharp, headmaster at Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville, Calif., sent out a number of his staff to buy as many iPads as possible, so that he could put them in the classroom without delay—making Monte Vista the world’s first iPad adopter in the K-12 environment. A few months later, he hired me to integrate the technology.

Because we were the first adopters, and because we are close to Apple headquarters, a group of us—board members, administrators, IT staff, teachers, and students—found ourselves being wined and dined on Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, in a very posh room at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino. In this meeting, I made a mistake that seems to be a recurring personal fault: I spoke before entirely thinking something through.

One of the presenters was talking about an app he had recently built, when I decided to pipe up with a question something along the lines of, “So we’ve got all these great students, and we’ve got these iPads, and we’ve got computer labs. So why don’t we have our students build apps for in-house needs?” As one might imagine, the faces of the Apple executives lit up like Christmas trees. As we were leaving the building, our headmaster turned to me and asked, “So, when are you going to offer that programming course?” That’s when I knew I was in trouble.

(Next page: How White created the app programming course)