Don't worry Bill, you find yourself in the same situation as do most when trying to get started.
You do have some different product ideas, so that's good, it gives you far more opportunity. I'm assuming you are based in the US, if so, have you considered looking at surplus stock as a resource for purchasing.
It does mean some up-front cash outlay, but no where like buying in any sort of decent wholesale volume, and I think you would find a far better margin in it than you will in drop shipping.
When it comes to eBay, the more margin you have in a product, the more competitive you can be.
Things like school gear, I would be suggesting taking a close look at surplus outlets to see what is available.
Of course we're only focusing on eBay here at the moment as well, so you shouldn't over look other selling avenues just because they aren't as popular as eBay.
In regards to online selling avenues, you have things like Graigs List, Bonanza, eCrater and so on. When it comes to using online selling platforms, those like Bonanza and eCrater are well worth considering because they are free to list, so you are in no fear of loosing money if stock doesn't move.
If you did choose liquidated stock, what about a weekend market stall around your area, everyone is always looking for good priced school gear, so perhaps an opportunity there for you also.
I don't really have any knowledge of a good liquidator that deals in a lot of school gear, however if you were interested in that avenue, I would suggest taking a look at via trading. They are a first class surplus supplier, great to deal with.
Titan Liquidations is also a good general supplier, so it might be worth seeing if the boys at Titan could source this types of loads for you as well.
The biggest key thing at this point is not to get stressed about being caught in the fog, not knowing which way is up. That fog can clear very quickly, and all of a sudden you get to see a very clear direction, persistance is what it is all about, especially at the start-up point!