The Parade Goes On: Mary’s Legacy Comes Alive

Mary with StudentIn Spring 2020, Big Thought and the Dallas community lost a wonderful friend, advocate and soul in Mary Hernandez. Mary was an inspiration to all youth educators in the DFW area, especially those that shared her passion for reading and children’s literacy.

Committed to children having access to high quality education, Mary invested 14 years of her career with the Trinity River Mission, first as the Believe and Achieve Scholarship Coordinator and later as the Executive Director. In 2005, she became Director of Programs for Jubilee Park Community Center, broadening her scope reach in the community and deepening her passion for youth.

In 2010, Mary joined Big Thought, leading the way for the development of the I Love to Read program for children’s literacy and paving the way for a long list of community engagement and outreach, all with the central focus of children’s education and literacy.

The Parade Goes On CoverMary continued her passion for literacy and social and emotional learning by authoring a children’s book, The Parade Goes On.

Mary shared:

I take great delight in presenting The Parade Goes On to show how kids can take charge, help each other express feelings and use their imagination. As a child growing up I took care of my siblings, so I know firsthand the critical importance of free play and sharing creativity through making. I was also inspired by the stories of my coworkers at Big Thought and their unique childhood experiences.


Big Thought Creative Manger Brandon McKnight illustrated Mary’s work, bringing the characters to life.

It was an honor to help Mary’s vision come to reality. I’m touched by the opportunity to use my creative skills to support Mary’s passion for literacy and social and emotional well-being, shared Brandon.

Later this month, elementary students in Big Thought’s Thriving Minds programs and SEL Dallas will receive a complimentary copy of the book. Program leaders will also use some of the activities designed by Mary to help youth understand and practice the lessons within the book.

The Parade Goes On is available for free online in both English and Spanish.