Miami Dade County earns national achievement award for MDPLS and the Curtiss Explorer Unsung Hero Essay Program Partnership

WASHINGTON – Miami Dade County’S MDPLS and the Curtiss Explorer Unsung Hero Essay Program Partnership has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

NACo recognized MDPLS and the Curtiss Explorer Unsung Hero Essay Program Partnership, in the category of Libraries. The Curtiss Explorer Program is an essay competition that challenges middle school students in Miami-Dade County to discover an unsung hero and share their findings in a brief essay and an oral presentation. The purpose of the program is multifaceted. The Curtiss Explorer Program:
 Helps students obtain a library card, sometimes for the first time;
 Promotes the use of public library resources, including research databases, online catalog, print and digital sources, and librarians.
 Promotes understanding and awareness of who Glenn Curtiss was and his contributions to aviation and society in general;
 Builds a cooperative relationship with a non-profit community organization (the Curtiss Mansion, Inc.); public, private, and charter schools; homeschooling communities; donors; and supporters.
 Introduces students to essay writing requiring critical thinking and higher-order thinking skills;
 Promotes research skills and information literacy – i.e., determining authenticity, validity, and reliability of a source, show evidence for fact-based information;
 Helps pique curiosity about an unknown historical figure and facilitates a sense of wonder about how those actions affect the present;
 Introduces the concept of legacy and how one’s past actions can reverberate in the present even after an extended time;
 Helps the students understand that they themselves can be an unsung hero and be a force for positive change in their daily lives.

NACo President Roy Charles Brooks said, “Counties seize opportunities to deliver services more efficiently and build stronger communities every day. Achievement Award-winning programs are examples for counties that are determined to enhance services for our residents.”

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.

NACo will recognize award-winning counties at its 2018 Annual Conference and Exposition July 13-16 in Nashville/Davidson County, Tennessee.

Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.


The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America’s 3,069 county governments. Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government and exercise exemplary leadership in public service. Learn more at

The Miami Dade Public Library System serves a population of nearly 2.5 million people. Its mission is to maintain and improve public library services reflecting the informational, educational, and recreational needs of its diverse community.

The Curtiss Mansion is the former home of famed aviator and inventor, Glenn Curtiss. The 1925 structure is Pueblo Revival Architecture. Glenn Curtiss also co-founded the Miami cities of Hialeah, Miami Springs and Opa Locka during the Florida land boom of the 1920s. The Curtiss Mansion, an ever-changing complex, is a unique center with the express purpose of keeping the Spirit of Glenn Curtiss alive.