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A fifth-grade teacher at Thorpe Gordon Elementary School in Jefferson City received about $550 to purchase 50 books for her classroom reading project.

Through DonorsChoose, an education nonprofit organization that connects public school teachers with interested donors, Thorpe Gordon teacher TJ Tipton received two donations equaling nearly $275 — one from a family member and one from the Burch Family Foundation nonprofit — and USCellular matched these donations.

Statewide, UScellular donated $1,878 for eight projects submitted by Missouri teachers. Nationwide, the company donated $100,000 to DonorsChoose and reached 50,000 students in 333 schools by matching donations on more than 600 classroom projects. To address equity gaps, UScellular's funds went to schools where most of the students are from low-income households, according to a news release.

Tipton used the money to purchase 50 books for her "Picture Book a Day" project where she reads one picture book every day to her students. Her goal is to eventually buy 90 more books to equal 140 — one for each day of the school year.

"The goal of my project is for students to learn that reading can be a lot of fun while also cultivating the social and emotional skills they need in life," Tipton said.

Many of these books are from author Brad Meltzer's "I am" series, which highlights historical figures.

"These non-fiction books feature people from all backgrounds that are an inspiration and face adversity," Tipton said. "They include many text features like speech bubbles and timelines."

This daily reading time is a time for students to discover their love for reading, "a foundational skill students need to succeed academically and as a member of society," Tipton said.

"This time is so special to our class," she said. "It only takes 10 minutes. and their faces light up. They look forward to this time together, reading every day."

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