Meet The International TEFL Academy Staff


Jeff Penick

Admissions advisor


Editor's Introduction:  Jeff Penick is one of the most senior members of International TEFL Academy's staff, with more than 10 years of professional experience in the field of TEFL, both as an English teacher abroad and as a member of the ITA Admissions Advisors Team.  He is also the published author of many articles on the ITA blog.

What is your role at international TEFL Academy?

I work as an admissions advisor and assist prospective students with questions about their options for teaching English abroad and TEFL certification. 

What's Your Story?

Growing up between New Jersey and the Chicago suburbs, I did not get a true taste of traveling abroad until I studied in Northern England while in college. It was during that experience when I learned how completely fascinated I was with traveling to new places and experiencing first-hand what it was like to live in a completely different part of the world with different cultures, landscapes, attitudes, and perspectives.

Following college, all that truly interested me was getting back abroad and continuing to explore the world. I decided to move to South Korea and teach English because I was interested in traveling to Asia, and I also needed to move to a country where I could save some money. With the money I saved in South Korea after my first year, I traveled extensively throughout Asia then ventured to Colombia for a few months to study Spanish. Not at all finished with my time abroad, I decided to head back to South Korea for another year.

After spending the better part of four years overseas, I moved back to Chicago in 2011 and have been working at International TEFL Academy ever since.

Taking a quick trip to The Great Wall while teaching in South Korea

Teach English in South Korea



Where are you from, where did you go to college & what did you major in at college?

I lived in Northern New Jersey until I was nine before moving to the Chicago suburbs for the rest of my childhood/adolescence. 

Purdue University – Organizational Leadership

What countries have you visited?

South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Burma, England, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Scotland, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Haiti, St. Martin, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia

What's next on your list?

Italy, Turkey, Nepal


Where have you lived, worked or traveled abroad long-term?

Studied abroad in Ormskirk, England; taught English in South Korea to elementary school kids; lived in Medellin, Colombia for the Spring/Summer of 2009 studying Spanish.


What was one of your most memorable travel experiences?

I don’t think this is my “best”, but one that taught me a lot about the importance of humility and being able to laugh at yourself while abroad was the first time I got a haircut in South Korea. I had only been in South Korea for a couple of weeks and had no idea how to describe to the hair stylist how I wanted my hair so I had my boss write me a “prescription” with the details. I walked into the salon, handed the front desk person my note, she laughed hysterically, walked around the entire salon to show everyone the note, then took me back for someone to cut my hair. I still don’t know exactly what that note said, but I received one of the best haircuts of my life and went back to that salon for my remaining time in South Korea.



Life in South Korea

teach abroad in South Korea

ITA takes Halloween very seriously

Teach Abroad International TEFL Academy


TEFL Certification Asia

Name some of your favorite literature & media:

Books: “Catcher in the Rye”

Films: “Fargo”

Music:Dream Version” and “A Band Called Catch”

TV: Larry David

What is your favorite international cuisine?

Does pizza count? 

Why do you like working at International TEFL Academy?

I love my coworkers and helping people live and experience countries all over the world as I am a huge proponent of international travel and exploration. I also really enjoy living vicariously through our students and graduates. I might be settled down for the time being here in Chicago, but it’s great to still feel connected to so many people and places around the globe.

"I’m happy to share my story in hopes of helping other
International TEFL Academy students connect to the world."