Signature School

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Signature School
Victory Theater and Hotel Sonntag.jpg
610 Main St.
Evansville, Indiana, Vanderburgh County 47708
United States
Coordinates 37°58′23″N 87°34′07″W / 37.972998°N 87.568655°W / 37.972998; -87.568655Coordinates: 37°58′23″N 87°34′07″W / 37.972998°N 87.568655°W / 37.972998; -87.568655
Type charter high school, International Baccalaureate Programme, Advanced Placement
Established 2002 (as a full day school), 1992 (as a half day program)
School district Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation
Executive Director of Students Jean Hitchcock
Faculty 24
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 328 (2013-2014)
Campus type Urban
Slogan Globally focused. Nationally recognized. Locally connected.
Athletics conference Independent
Sports Independent
Nickname Sig
Team name Penguins
Newspaper The Signal
Yearbook The Album

Signature School is a charter high school located in downtown Evansville, Indiana, on the Main Street walkway. The school opened in 2002 as Indiana's first public charter high school. It has been consistently ranked by a number of publications as one of the top high schools in the United States.


Signature School began in 1992 as a half-day program with 213 students. It offered both morning and afternoon classes for motivated high school students who wanted to be challenged and enroll in higher-level courses. In particular, the ACE program (the Accelerated, Compacted, Enriched Program) was developed for freshmen and sophomores looking for more advanced English, foreign language, math, and science offerings.

By 2001, Signature School had 278 part-time students. After the passage of the Indiana Charter School Law, the staff saw an opportunity to apply for a full-day program, adopt more courses into its curriculum, and transform in to a charter school. In December 2001, Signature School submitted a charter-seeking conversion status to the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC), and, on February 25, 2002, the EVSC approved the charter. At the time it, was Indiana's first public charter high school.

The first graduation ceremony for Signature School students was held in May 2003 in the Victory Theatre. There were 42 students in the first graduating class.


Signature School is part of the International Baccalaureate Programme. The school also offers Advanced Placement classes for those who choose to not to pursue a full IB diploma. Today, many of the classes offer a combination of both AP and IB credits. Foreign languages offered at the school include French, German, and Spanish.

The school at present has a total enrollment of 342 students. Its current Executive Director is Jean Hitchcock. Jaclyn Grogan serves as the Director of Student Services, with Emily Gutmann as the Executive Assistant in the Office of Student Services, and Beth Muehlbauer as general Executive Assistant. Signature School prides itself on offering challenging courses for the "self-motivated learner," which it considers a differentiating factor from other area schools. The former executive director (equivalent to the principal in the normal high school), Vicki Snyder serves on the Executive Board of the charter school.

The student-to-teacher ratio is 20 to 1. Students and parents can access grades and information from a server called PowerSchool, which is updated regularly. Teachers at Signature School encourage higher level thinking and challenge their students to go above and beyond academically.


In 2014, The Washington Post named Signature the 8th most challenging high school in the U.S.,[1] while U.S. News and World Report ranked it as the 21st best public high school in America, the 6th best charter, and number one school in the Midwest in 2013.[2] The Daily Beast named Signature as the 5th best high school in America in its "Top High Schools 2014" list.[3] In addition, Signature School has been declared a Blue Ribbon School.[4]

In 2010 and 2011 Newsweek ranked the school as the 7th best in the nation.[5] In 2011 the Washington Post ranked it as the nation's 8th best.[6] Out of about 22,000 high schools nationwide, US News and World Report ranked Signature School the 53rd best in 2011.[7]

Previous Newsweek rankings have been 54th (2006), 99th (2008), 27th (2009), 7th (2010), and 7th (2011).[8][9] Other Washington Post rankings include 126th (2007), 97th (2008), 23rd (2009), 7th (2010), and 8th (2011).[10]


Signature School is located in several buildings in downtown Evansville, Indiana, on the Main Street walkway. These include the fourth floor of the Victory theater; the Robert L. Koch II Science Building, which is attached to The Gerling Law Firm offices, the YMCA for PE classes, and the Browning Rooms at Central Library. The school's main building is attached to the historic Victory Theatre. The building now known as Signature School was originally a hotel, later gutted and remodeled to act as a school.

Signature students do not eat in a school cafeteria but instead dine at one of the restaurants located in downtown Evansville. Students who opt to bring their lunches may also elect to eat across the street from the school in the Commons, a space located in the second floor of the school Science Center, or in the Grassy Knoll, a small, outdoor area adjoining to the school. Students sign up each morning for a restaurant and sign in with a teacher assigned to that restaurant.


Signature School has a recognizable reputation for attracting the motivated learner. The student population is made up of all different diversities, religions, and sexual orientations. The students are encouraged for higher level thinking and promoting a global awareness towards the Evansville community. One noticeable difference from the traditional high schools in the county is the emphasis on LGBT rights and having a very proud community/global awareness. Students who enroll in the school are hereby required to be involved in the local communities as well as the school community. Community service has become a prerequisite for graduation, completing 100 hours of local community service yearly and 25 school logged hours. Students coming from different religious practices are welcomed on the school's campus, creating an embracing environment for the International students.

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