Signature School History
Launched as a half-day program, Signature School became Indiana’s first charter high school in 2002 through the support and direction of the Signature Learning Center, which later became the Signature School Foundation, Inc. In December 2001, Principal Vicki Snyder and a group of teachers submitted a charter to the Evansville Vanderburgh School Board of Trustees (EVSC) seeking conversion status. On February 25, 2002, the EVSC approved the charter and this full-time program began to “put itself on the map.”
Signature has established a tradition of high academic performance and achievement by creating a culture of learning based on trust and mutual respect. Students, with their “signatures,” attend the school by choice, knowing that the educational opportunities are challenging and meet the educational needs of motivated students.
Signature’s proximity to the Evansville Civic Center, financial and business institutions, museums, libraries and other community organizations enhances educational opportunities for students. Over the years, the school has become an increasingly integral part of the downtown community.
In 2015, Signature joined the Southwest Indiana Regional Cities team, a group later awarded a total $42 million grant by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The official announcement of this downtown and regional expansion took place in April of 2016 in the Signature School Commons by then Governor Mike Pence with Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, Signature School Board Chairman Robert L. Koch II, Executive Director Jean Hitchcock (named head of school in 2012), legislators, community members, and Signature faculty, staff, and students taking part.
Signature School was the first Regional Cities team member to complete a project with the opening of a new biology laboratory on the second floor of the Robert L. Koch II Science Center, the site of the original announcement, in August 2016. In January 2019, the construction crew broke ground on the site of the former faculty parking lot to begin work on further expansion of school facilities. The remaining portion of Signature’s $2.5 million from the Regional Cities funding was used to complete this project, allowing the school to accommodate a growing student body. On January 6, 2020, the dedication ceremony for the Robert L. Koch II Center for the Arts and Sciences took place. Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, Board President Bob Koch, and Executive Director Jean Hitchcock spoke at the grand opening ceremony, and Signature faculty, students, alumni, board members, and community supporters joined in the celebration. Classes began at the Koch Center the following day.
An open-admission public high school, Signature School provides choice to students and parents in Evansville and Southwestern Indiana. Signature School’s curriculum is internationally based with emphasis on fine and performing arts, science, technology, mathematics, and the liberal arts. All Signature courses are designed to comply with the Indiana Academic Standards for the appropriate grade level and discipline. External assessment is provided to all students through the Advanced Placement (AP) program and the International Baccalaureate Programme, implemented in 2006. Signature continues to revise and improve its curriculum, including the implementation of the AP Capstone Diploma Program in 2017, to meet the demands of the community for a secondary educational opportunity that puts academics first and continues to be ranked as the #1 high school in the Midwest and a top high school in the United States.