Narbonne High teacher stopped this run at a football prospect

She sent the counselor packing.

Moments later, another knock.

"This is the fourth interruption and I can't get anything done. So I go to the door and here's our football coach and Sarkisian," said Bennett, who was once the athletic director at Narbonne. She said she told Sarkisian she knew him from his days as a star athlete in the South Bay.

"I said, 'Hi, coach, I'm Victoria Bennett, you went to West Torrance High.' He said yes, and I didn't give him a chance to say anything else because I was hot. I said, 'I'm sure you will understand I've had most of these youngsters for two years and my goal is to get them across the stage."

If her students play football, fine, Bennett told me. If they get a full college scholarship, yahoo!

"But academics is my No. 1," she recalls telling the coaches in what she describes as a deliberate but respectful tone. "This is what I do. This is it."

She suggested that even a big-deal college coach like Sarkisian could wait until after class to conduct his business.

"I said, 'I am not enamored of celebrity.'"

With that, Bennett went back and taught her class, and Sarkisian waited until later to visit Nwosu.

"She's a very good teacher," said Principal Kobata. "She holds them accountable. When you go into her class, you see student engagement.... They don't just sit passively."

Kobata said he was upset with his staff for interrupting Bennett's class. The policy is for recruiters to visit after school.

And what about Nwosu, who, as it turns out, will have plenty of time with Sarkisian at USC next year?

"I appreciated what she was doing," the student said of the way Bennett put his education first.

Nwosu said his grade-point average is above 3.0 and he might major in business at USC.

Bennett, he said, is "a cool teacher. Cool and funny."

"I love that class."

steve.lopez@latimes.com

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