LOS ANGELES, Calif. – As Katy Perry returns stateside to kick off the North American leg of her Prismatic World Tour, she’s reflecting on the hard work that got her here and preparing to pay it forward.

“I’m an American girl that had a dream, executed a dream, came from nothing — and that really is the American dream,” Perry said. “I’m happy to be that example and hopefully inspire other people to do that.”

The 29-year-old pop star is doing more than inspiring — she’s leading by example and lending her fame to support American teachers. Perry helped present a $1 million donation Thursday from Staples Inc. to support teacher projects during the upcoming school year. She’ll also invite fans at her concerts to join the “Make Roar Happen” initiative at DonorsChoose.org, where they can select projects to support and make donations as small as $1.

“I really believe knowledge is power, especially for females,” she said in an interview. “I feel like our education makes us more confident.”

Perry said although she “wasn’t raised with a great education,” she seeks it out now, visiting museums and national parks while on the road.

“I thought, instead of shopping my way around the world, why not educate my way around the world?” she said. Perry and her team hope to visit every nearby national park while on the 46-city North American tour, which starts June 22 in Raleigh, North Carolina. They also plan to stop at Dollywood in Tennessee.

Perry embraced the “Make Roar Happen” effort because so many of her fans are students. But she doesn’t let being a role model drive her behaviour.

“I’m aware that people look up to me, but I hope it’s more an inspirational thing and not like, ‘Katy Perry makes these decisions for herself, so therefore I’ll make decisions based on those Katy Perry makes,’ because that’s not how anyone should live their life,” she said. “But I hope they’re inspired by my hard work, my ambition, and my integrity.”

Perry will be on the road through October before launching the European leg of her tour next year. So is the former wife of Russell Brand and girlfriend of John Mayer enjoying being free and single as she adventures around the globe?

“I am relishing being very present,” Perry said. “I’m relishing living one day at a time.”

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at http://www.twitter.com/APSandy .

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Online:

http://www.staples.com/makeroarhappen