“I tell my students that preparing taxes is like a game,” said the Tidewater Community College accounting professor. “The object is to pay your lowest legal minimum tax, so you learn the rules and you plan your transactions to arrive at your lowest total.”
Bird teaches Principles of Accounting (ACC 211 and 212) along with Principles of Federal Taxation (ACC 261 and 262). Every spring her 261 class participates in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that provides tax help to low-to-moderate income individuals. Her students become IRS-certified volunteer preparers and pair off into groups with Bird providing advisement throughout the process.
“For five weeks we do tax returns for the public,” she said. “I check everything over to make sure it’s right and then we e-file it right there. I’ve had a lot of the same people, senior citizens and such, who have come back year after year.”
Bird grew up in Virginia Beach, enjoying math so much it was natural to follow her high school education at Green Run with a bachelor’s in accounting from Virginia Tech. She graduated in 1991, and the following year completed her master’s in accountancy in taxation, also from Virginia Tech.
For 10 years, Bird worked in the corporate world, including two accounting firms in the Washington, D.C., area before KPMG, a large U.S. auditing firm with offices in downtown Norfolk. She transitioned into teaching from there, starting as an adjunct at TCC teaching Tuesday night accounting classes. In 2005 she began working at the college full time.
Bird said she enjoys “the light bulb moment,” that happens when a student struggling with a concept suddenly understands it.
“I like the way that with accounting, it feels relevant to students and gives them a feel for their personal financial situation,” she said.
Bird also enjoys clearing up many of the misconceptions about accounting.
“People think accountants do nothing but taxes,” she said. “There’s governmental accounting, auditing, consulting and even plenty of specialized industries that provide opportunity.”
Given that accounting is not tied to one location – “Every place there is a business you need an accountant,” – she said — it is an ideal career even in these challenging economic times.
TCC’s Accounting program offers three options: a Career Studies Certificate, an Accounting Specialist Certificate, and an Associate in Applied Science Degree. Additional accounting courses are offered in bookkeeping, hospitality accounting, payroll, and small business accounting.
When Bird is not teaching, she enjoys cooking and running; she recently completed the Shamrock 8K. She and husband Robert, also a CPA, have two children, Hannah, 14, and Jason, 11. The family resides