Born in Belleville, Pennsylvania, Wanda Shirk grew up in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Ephrata High School in 1967. In 1971, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and speech communication from Wheaton College in Illinois. She then went on to receive her master's degree in education from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
Shirk has been teaching junior and senior high school English for 28 years. From 1971 to 1977, she taught at Warwick High School in Lititz, Pennsylvania. From 1983 until the present, she has taught at Northern Potter High School in Ulysses, Pennsylvania. In addition to classroom teaching, she has supervised the school's yearbook and newspaper staffs, directed school plays, acted as an advisor to the National Honor Society and sophomore, junior and senior classes and served as timer and scorekeeper for the school's volleyball and basketball games.
Parenting has been a large part of Shirk's life over the last 25 years. In addition to her own children, Dawn and Shawn, she and her husband of 26 years (they divorced in 2000) became foster parents to 25 children and to exchange students from Norway, Germany and the Ukraine.
These days, Shirk devotes much of her time to community service. She is a trustee of the Ulysses Library, President of the Potter County Foster Parents Association, Chairman of the Potter County Planning Commission and secretary/fund-raising Chairman for the Tri-Town Fire Company Auxiliary. She is certified as a Community Emergency Response Team member and is certified in some Red Cross courses (and a regular Red Cross blood donor as well).
Shirk enjoys backpacking and hiking. In 2000, she solo backpacked the 85 mile Susquehannock Trail in Potter County, Pennsylvania. She is an active member of the Keystone Trails Association and two local hiking clubs.
A recent newlywed, Shirk resides in Ulysses, Pennsylvania, with her husband, George. Her birth date is August 24, 1949.