Encouraged by her parents and the great teachers she encountered as a student, Petra Hegstad DeKray led a highly-successful career in education. It all began in 1966, when she joined both Hayes Elementary School and Rice Creek Elementary School as a second grade teacher. In the years that followed, she progressed through a variety of roles, including chapter I reading teacher at Chief Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School, English reading teacher at Rochester Public Schools, and student newspaper advisor and chapter I reading teacher at Moorhead Junior High School through Moorhead Area Public Schools. For her final year in academia, Ms. DeKray served as an eighth-grade reading teacher at Horizon Middle School. She retired in 2005.
Beyond her work in the schools, Ms DeKray held positions as a member of the license committee for District 152, a teacher for Minnesota reading standards tests prep classes, and as a practice test writer. Further, she was a secretary for the Minnesota Reading Association from 1993 to 2002, a member of the honor council of the Northland Reading Council in 1986, the president of the Northland Reading Council from 1985 to 1986, a volunteer for the Committee to Help Refugees Relocate in 1976, and a volunteer for the Committee to Establish Kindergarten through the Bismarck Public School District from 1974 to 1975. She also maintained affiliation with the National Education Association, Education Minnesota, the International Literacy Association, and Kappa Delta Pi.
One of the highlights of Ms. DeKray’s journey was making the decision to back to school and successfully obtaining a Master of Science in elementary education from Bemidji State University in 1989. She previously earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and German from Concordia College in 1966, and certifications in German education, elementary education, reading consulting, and remedial and development K-12 teaching from the state of Minnesota.
Now in retirement, Ms. DeKray enjoys skiing, traveling, golf, music, and art. She also remains active in her community. She has been an election judge since 2015, volunteer at the Sanford Medical Center since 2006, and member of the auxiliary at the North County Regional Hospital, part of Sanford Health, since 2006. From 2016 to 2017, she was the secretary of the Sons of Norway at Lodge 1-500.